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I was going to write about daffodils and crocuses popping out of the snow but then I saw the bumper stickers. One said “Make America Great Again—Trump in 2020” and the other said “Build the Wall” and my whole day changed. I waited outside the gas station and hoped to visit with the owner of the car and perhaps ask a few questions. I wasn’t going to bug whoever it might be, just ask why we need a wall to lock us into our own safe little closed-up world, safe from bad amigos and drug dealers, rapists, prostitutes and other would be terrorists.
The last photos I saw of the central American immigrant families waiting near the border, poignant in their desperation, seemed kind of like the old grainy photos of many of our own poor, seemingly harmless ancestors who arrived in this land. We do know that some of our Johnson ancestors were likely the landless, off the farm, with little to lose in a homeland that had plenty of its own troubles. The ancestors were herded through customs, called dumb Swedes and Norwegians because of their accents, were processed into citizens, had names changed because the immigration officials couldn’t understand them or figure out how to spell their names in the first place.
We are lucky enough to still have some of those original immigration documents from the 1870s and 1880s when it seems most of them came.
One great-grandfather, August Oskar Johannsen, was handed back his papers with the name Gust Johnson written on them. Simple and direct. I’m not sure of the exact reception he received when he became a citizen and struck out west to Minnesota but he had that chance and was a woodworker, a carpenter, for much of his life.
A great-grandmother, known as Moomer, short for Mormor or mother’s mother, was a lady who struck out on her own and made it through New York to Minnesota and was known for her “makeover bread” and blankets made out of old rugs. The makeover bread was just that. If there was bread or other pastry-like foodstuffs left over on baking day it went into the dough and was reborn. The rugs still lived on during my early years and weighed as much as anchors. I vaguely remember mom or grandma throwing a blanket out over us like a net and being trapped under the weight of them on many a night when we stayed at the cabin or at Aunt Edith’s. Another time my mom and grandma had enough guessing of what was in a large round pillow Moomer had sewn. There were objects in there that would give you a sore neck. The two of them took a knife to the pillow and pulled out a broken umbrella, a pair of worn romeo slippers and other bits of flotsam. I’m not sure of the exact reception a young old country woman received when she became a citizen and struck out on her own but she had that chance.
Now, President Liar is threatening to close the border so those bad amigos, drug dealers, rapists, prostitutes and terrorists can’t come and get us. I’m looking at a photo of children the age of my grandkids waiting for a chance at freedom. Those little kids a thousand miles from home aren’t going to get that chance like my ancestors did.
Good friend Don asked the other day, “What if all those people at the border were white people? Would they be left there to an uncertain fate?”
The person who owned the car with the bumper stickers never appeared. I went into the store and saw no one else. I asked the cashier if he owned that new red Ford car out there and he said no. All I could do was leave a National Union of Friendly Americans card tucked under the wiper and see if the person might give a call.
In the meantime, I sat in the parking lot and ate a sandwich and read the Pioneer Press. In the sports section was a story about Rumpt’s decades long penchant for cheating at golf and falsifying his handicap. He’s nearly a par golfer, you know! He said he would be way too busy for golfing as president but the 150 times he’s been on the links since he was sworn in prove just how busy he is. Former Sports Illustrated writer and golfer Rick Reilly has documented years of rounds of golf with Rumpt and all the celebrities, rich guys and sports stars who sang like canaries when they had the chance. Imagine that, he cheats at golf! The book is called “Commander in Cheat: How golf explains Trump.” Reilly said he was compelled to write the book not out of politics but from a golfer’s perspective regarding a person who would spend a lifetime cheating at the game of golf.
He explained that golf is a game of honor, where the individual is expected to act as his own referee.
Imagine that, Rumpt cheats on his wives, cheats on his taxes, cheats on banks that loan him money and he cheats at golf, too! He’s great!