Reunion at Lake Miltona

The “boys” gather for a reunion at Lake Miltona in Alexandria. Pictured, from left to right, are Steve Hale, Tim Hale, Paul Schreiber, Len Schreiber and Todd Hale. (Submitted photo)

This past weekend was one that I’ll forever remember. The mission was for me, and my two sons, Steve and Tim to spend three days at Viking Bay Resort at Lake Miltona in Alexandria and fish with former Owatonnan Len Schreiber and his son, Paul. Schreiber owned and operated Viking Bay Resort for 21 years and was host to many Owatonna families who knew Len when he managed the Owatonna Red Owl store. Len just recently celebrated his 90th birthday. He has slowed down a bit, but still is able to get in a boat and fish the lake he loves. My sons and I fished the lake most of the day and met Len and Paul in the late afternoon and fished with them guiding us until sundown, which this time of year is about 7 p.m.

The weather was unusually warm for this time of year. We had all loaded up with winter gear anticipating chilly temperatures and northwest winds. But the lake remained calm for all three days and we fished with shorts and short sleeve shirts.

A fishing downturn

This was similar weather and temperatures that one experiences in July and August. Unfortunately, the fishing was similar to those months as well. Our expectations of great walleye fishing in the fall as the fish headed to shallower waters didn’t happen. Steve, Tim and I didn’t net a single walleye all three days! In fact, just getting any kind of fish was a challenge. The total for the three of us that weekend was two northern, a smallmouth bass and a few small perch. Not even a bullhead or a rock bass. Luckily Len and Paul had caught four walleyes and a couple of northern pike which we used for our anticipated fish fry on Saturday night.

Paul Schreiber, who works for the Department of Natural Resources, blames the invasion of Zebra Mussels in the lake for the decline in walleye fishing success. Zebra Mussels have cleaned up the lake allowing for more light in the waters. Walleyes like darkness and have retreated to weed beds to find the darkness they desire, making it hard to fish them.

We tried everything including still fishing, trolling with a jig, and using trolling baits and Shadraps that Len recommended for this time of year with no results. We fished in varying depths with no results. I never thought I would hear Len, who always promoted Lake Miltona walleye fishing, say, “Walleye fishing on Miltona is not what it used to be. Something has happened to the lake and I only hope it will work its way out of it.”

Camaraderie made

the weekend

Even if the fishing was a disappointment, the weekend was one I will always cherish. The memories of early years at Lake Miltona shared by Schreiber and our memories of family vacations at Viking Bay and the laughs shared by all of us brought about the realization that this weekend was not all about fishing, it was about sharing past times that we spent together at the resort and being with my two sons sitting for hours in a boat or in our cabin sharing those vivid memories. I hope that next year we will be able to share this time together, maybe with a little better fishing but certainly a repeat of the wonderful weekend spent with each other. I’ll do it again in a heartbeat! By the way, Len and Ev send greetings to their many friends in Owatonna.


those early days

I imagine myself talking to a young person today, telling them what life was like when I was their age. I ran across the following which pretty well tells the story. I’ve added a few personal thoughts as well.

“Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate, I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.” By this time the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table.

But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it. Some parents never owned their own house, never wore Levi’s, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something call a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears-Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears & Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.

My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer.

I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds and only had one speed (slow). But if your bike was a Schwinn, it was top of the line and your friends envied you.

We didn’t have a television in our house until I was 11. It was, of course, black and white. It was a Bendix. My dad climbed up on the roof to erect the antenna and pointed it to where the picture was the best. It was a big deal when we got a control that we could select the direction of the antenna from inside the house.

The station went off the air at midnight, after playing the national anthem and a poem about God. It came on the air following a test pattern at about 6 a.m. There was usually a locally produced news and farm show on, featuring local people. My oldest son, Steve, would sit on the floor with his favorite blanket and watched the test pattern until the programming came on

I was 19 before I tasted my first pizza. Back then it was called “pizza pie.” When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It’s still the best pizza I ever had until I tasted my wife’s home-made pizza.

I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn’t know weren’t already using the line.

All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered newspapers seven days a week. Papers cost seven cents and I got to keep two cents. I had an evening route, but had to get up at 6 a.m. Sundays to deliver the Sunday paper. I had to collect from my customers. I rang doorbells to collect the 42 cents. My favorite customers were the ones who gave me 50 cents and told me to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who never seemed to be home on collection day. I heard every excuse in the book as to why they didn’t have money in the house and could I “come back another day?” I bought my first car from my earnings delivering papers and wound up working in the circulation department at the Star-Tribune. I established a close friendship with most of my customers.

Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. There were no movie ratings because all movies were responsibly produced for everyone to enjoy viewing, without profanity or violence or most anything offensive. Growing up isn’t what it used to be, is it?

Memories from a friend

My dad is cleaning out my grandmother’s house and he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of holes in it. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea. She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker. I knew it as the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to ‘sprinkle’ clothes with because we didn’t have steam irons. Man, I am old!

Remember? Headlight dimmer switches on the floor, ignition switches on the dashboard and heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall.

Remember? Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards; soldering irons you heated on a gas burner; using hand signals for cars without turn signals.

Remember? Blackjack chewing gum; Candy cigarettes; Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles; Coffee shops or diners with table-side juke boxes; Newsreels before the movie; Butch wax; Only three channels on one’s television; TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until shows started in the morning; pea shooters; Howdy Doody; 45 rpm records; S & H Green Stamps (with the redemption center at the corner of Rose and Cedar), Mimeograph paper; blue flashbulbs; Packard’s (sold by Manke’s), roller skate keys; cork popguns; drive-ins; Studebakers. Great memories that are some of the best parts of my life!

OPD offers car seat safety

If you use a car seat for your little one, you can have it inspected for free by the Owatonna Police Department. Nathan Heeren, an OPD officer, is a certified car seat technician. He is available to give personalized instruction on how to properly use a child’s car seat. Officer Heeren’s shift typically begins at 4 p.m. and he can be reached through dispatch at 451-8232.

Arts Center fall luncheon

The Owatonna Arts Center invites you to their annual Fall Luncheon on October 10th. There will be a noon lunch, followed by a program presented by Mr. Nguyen. Nguyen was born in Vietnam and will speak on the culture of his country and the political situation during his early and teen years. Tickets are limited and must be purchased by Oct. 3 for $20, available at Kottke’s and the Arts Center.

Firefighter’s chili/wild rice soup feed

The Owatonna Firefighters Relief Association’s chili/wild rice soup feed will be held next Sunday, Oct. 6, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Owatonna fire hall. Tickets are available for $6 in advance and $8 at the door, at Kottke’s and the fire hall. The supper marks the beginning of Fire Prevention Week.

Firefighter of Year banquet

The Exchange Club sponsored “Firefighter of the Year” banquet will be held on October 10 at the Eagles Club. Willie Grubish of Owatonna is this year’s Firefighter of the Year. Tickets are available at Kottke Jewelers, Insty-Prints and at the City Administration Building.

Pastor Olson’s final sermon Sunday

Owatonna Methodist Church Pastor Loren Olson will deliver his final sermon at tomorrow’s service. Pastor Olson has been in Owatonna for 11 years, coming here from Little Falls. He will keep busy in his retirement, however, serving as a Chaplain for Hospice in Austin and Albert Lea.

Methodist Church annual Octoberfest

The 48th annual Octoberfest, hosted by the United Methodist Women of Owatonna is Saturday, October 5th at the church. Sweet rolls/coffee and mnilk will be served beginning t 8:30. Shopping at the bakery, variety table, potting shed, pecans and painted pumpkins will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A free will offering lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Proceeds to Rachel’s Light, Emma Norton Services, and local church missions.

A small world

I received an e-mail from OHS grad Dave Voegele. Dave worked as a Sunday afternoon announcer at KRFO and now lives in LaGrange, Kentucky. He included an interesting Steele County story which proves it’s a small world. A couple of years ago a large political conference was held in LaGrange. Dave wrote, “I started talking to a very tall guy at the Ted Cruz booth. There was something familiar about him, so I asked if he was from my county. He said, no, he had come for the day from Nashville. Still thinking about him from somewhere, I asked if he had played in the NBA? He said he had never done that. I was about to give up when I finally asked his name and he said Paul Selby. Then it hit me! I asked, ‘About 54 years ago did you play basketball for the Medford Tigers?’ He said yes! I knew I knew him as I played center for Marian in 1964-66. I was six foot. When you go into a gym and see a guy about seven feet on the other end of the floor, he’s hard to forget.” Yes, it is a small world!


• Steele County residents are invited to an open house this Tuesday, October 1 in the county administration board room regarding the discovery of emerald ash borer in the county. Those attending the open house will have an opportunity to learn more about EAB and local options to deal with the insect and hear how residents can limit the spread of the bug.

• The annual Pheasants for Vets hospitalized veterans silent and live auction will be held next Saturday, October 5 at the VFW Club. All proceeds go to approximately 1,850 hospitalized veterans to enjoy a pheasant meal. Steele County has been a leader in donations towards this cause.

• St. John Lutheran Church will hold its Octoberfest tomorrow beginning with a Polka Worship Service featuring Irv Arndt on the concertina at 10:30 a.m. Booths, dinner, and games will be featured. Tickets are $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for age 10 and under. Free under age five.

• Trinity Lutheran Church of Medford annual fall ham supper will be held tomorrow, September 29 beginning at 4:30 to 7 p.m. Serving is family style. Cost is $12 for adults, $5 for children 6-12 and children under six are free.

Due credit

Information on the Malt-O-Meal Company in last week’s column contains content from “Malt-O-Meal Company,” written by Stephanie Hess of the Northfield Historical Society for MNopedia (

Joke of the week

Pretty busy today. Only able to check my cell phone 1400 times!

THEM: What inspires you to get out of bed in the morning? ME: My bladder, mostly.

I still have a land line, or as I like to call it, a “cell phone finder.”

Todd Hale can be reached at or write him at 632 14th St. S.E., Owatonna, MN 55060.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at

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