A note was delivered to the Reader that they passed on to me. They didn’t send the envelope, so I didn’t see a return address, but I am 99% sure I know the author. The note is signed Jerry, and he mentions his brother Bob, so it can only be Jerry Pollard. 
I have known Jerry Pollard since he was a very young boy. After the Bottillas moved to Esko, the Pollards' grandparents lived in that house. When they came to visit, Snub Pollard would take his boys out to play ball on the lawn. Being a very kind man, Snub welcomed me into the family ballgame, made sure I had fun doing it, and never once mentioned what a lousy ballplayer I was. It was the last time I would be able to play ball with Bob and Jerry Pollard on a more or less equal footing. They both became accomplished athletes, while I became an accomplished nose picker.
In Jerry’s day, Heather’s was Jim’s Hamburgers. The last time I was there, I checked out the floor in back. It was blue and white tiles in a checkerboard pattern. I’m sure that was the original floor installed when it was the Blue and White Cafe.
He also mentioned the A&W drive-in in Sunnyside. The drive-in, which is now Family Tradition, still has the covered parking spots in the rear where you would park, and the carhops would bring you frosty mugs of root beer. It was their only product at the time, just as Bridgeman’s was only ice cream.
Mrs, G.B. Stewart (remember Stewart’s Furniture?) hired Bob and Jerry to pull quack grass from her garden. He says she was very serious gardener and took great interest in the soil. I am sure if Mrs. Stewart and my mother ran in the same circles, they would never stop talking. I remember that deep-rooted quack grass. I wan’t hired to pull it, but I guess pulling it up was covered by my munificent 50¢ a week allowance.
The Stewarts also started a bank named City Bank which was located about where Park Avenue Fitness is now, For whatever reason, I got my house loan there. The very first thing they did was to sell my mortgage to a Duluth bank, who may have re-sold it, because I ended up having 3 or 4 slips of paper every time I made a house payment that was registered.
I say registered, because I always seemed to be late with my house payment. So I tried to make 3 early payments. Despite assurances from the staff, no one could ever figure out what happened to those payments. They didn’t argue that the payments were not made, they just couldn’t figure out where the money went. My wife and I had a little private joke that went: What did the Stewarts buy their son to play with on his birthday? The answer—a bank. He did play with it for a while, but got tired of it when he couldn’t figure out what was going on. The head teller assured us he was on the case, but then one night, he took a new job and slipped away.
The mystery of the missing payments only was solved when I made the last house payment. They had been applied to the principal. No benefit to me, of course, but there you are. And not one bank employee could figure it out. I didn’t have any more business with City Bank, and they quietly folded their tents and left.
What becomes of a bank when it dies? I have no idea—it just seems to have evaporated.
That set me thinking about all the businesses that have disappeared along Cloquet Avenue. Kolseth’s, Scogmos and the Federated Store for three, The Western Auto, and Carter’s where I bought my first VCR. That was expensive and a beast. Blank tapes sold for $20 each. Towards the end, they were a dollar each. Montgomery Wards had a catalog office, and across the street, so did J.C. Penney. The Ben Franklin store was called the dime store, although there wasn’t much you could get for a dime.
Len’s Melody Music store was on the North side, and another music store opened on the South side. The owner of that store was Terry something. I used to know him. He was a drummer in the Cloquet High School band, and he also fixed bikes.
The only thing I know about AXE products I have learned from my TV. If you wear AXE deodorant to the grocery store you will be attacked by attractive young ladies, who climb over the shelves to get to you. I had to try that out, so I wore it to Super One, carrying a small billy club just in case things got too intense. To my surprise, there was no reaction from the ladies. Two of them gave me sidelong glances as though they suspected that I was the one who farted. (To be fair, that may have been true.)
Then I thought that I may have had the wrong product, so I got some AXE body wash. AXE body wash is unlike every other body wash. If it is possible to make a product that is thinner than water, AXE body wash is it. It actually looks like black water, and has a definite odor.
I used it in my shower, went to Super One, same results. There is only one logical explanation for this: all the attractive young ladies are doing their grocery shopping at Cub Foods.
Speaking of foods, I saw my doctor and told him I was having a terrible gas problem, even for a guy who is officially an Old Fart. His diagnosis:"harrumph."
So I was on my own. By the next time I saw him, I had the answer. My gas was in direct proportion to the milk I drank. I had been drinking milk with my meals since I was a young lad, and had been told that my Scandinavian biota would always be there to digest it. So what happened to the biota?
“You’ve developed lactose intolerance,” he said.
“Lactose free milk has the same effect.”
My vegan granddaughter always wanted me to drink almond milk. I tried it and it was atrocious. RIPPLE is an adequate substitute for milk, although you have to shake the bottle before you pour, because it tends to settle. It is derived from yellow peas. For myself, I will stick to oat milk, which is more bland. I don’t know how it would work on breakfast cereal, but some day I might work up to trying that. It is the closest thing to milk that I have found.