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Repnow: Sharing the myriad secrets of the wondrous apple tree

By Staff | Apr 10, 2014

My earliest and fondest memories of plants that embellished the campus of Minot State University were 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 jostled 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 blubs 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 knowledgeable Richard Lavik, who knew how to dry clean everything from wool to rayon, did not walk by this tree and leave some of his dry cleaning wisdom and his newly gained business intelligence. 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. Moving towards the tree with a boundless smile is Karen Hodnefield Schilke. She takes a moment to leave tips from her prosperous newspaper delivery service which she conducted in Churchs Ferry. She also declares that being in the Tri Sigma sorority on campus is a source of pure merriment. Who is that with playbooks 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! Guess who has given enough trumpet performances to travel back and forth between Lignite and Minot 118 times if they were lined up? It is Tilman Hovland and he thrills the tree with details about Minot’s Brass Band.

Now let us not forget this tree was very close to the windows of Elaine Larson’s. 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. Appearing now and originally from Souris is Barbara J. Burns Larson. She halts her step to mentions to the tree that generations of family should attend Minot State; therefore, her granddaughter Courtney will join the list. Not far behind her strolls Meredith Johnson Schulz where she imparts to the tree what an impressive day she had student teaching at Longfellow Elementary.

Just like clockwork and early in 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 a 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 Science club. Oh, here is one of those students-Jerry Boatz urging students to “why stop at one degree? get four and maintain a 3.98 average!” Deb Graber Zavada skips to the tree and explains her mind-blowing lesson from audiovisual class with Joseph Wax. With an original musical composition in hand entitled “Pelican Lake Overture”, Dave Halvorson sings to the tree. In gratitude, the tree sways in rhythm. Is the Zoe Ann Parker Healy looking snappy in her majorette outfit? Why yes, and she stops twirling just long enough to tell the tree about the 1969 Rose Bowl Parade, which featured the Minot State Marching Band.

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 Pam Berg Anderson from accompanying the Vagabonds (an all-male chorus) and she conveys that taking all of those piano lessons truly paid off. Arriving next is Joe Hegstad with a plan to fit all the singers and guests into McFarland Auditorium for the performance to the 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.” Wearing a purple jacket with a hornet motif approaches Carol Kost Miller and she reveals to the tree that kindergarten students are her passion. With 3,353 successful gelatin mold releases to her credit, Lorraine Wolf Klein outlines to the tree her secrets of working with Jell-O.

Yes, the apple tree is seldom without guests. Now Selmer Moen has stopped to charm the tree 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 tree after a busy day in the Student Union office.

The story 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.

Flavorsome Applesauce Cake

Here is a recipe that dates back before 1913 and the acreage we now know as Minot State University was pasture. Was it Danish, German, Norwegian or Swedish settlers who brought this recipe to the North Dakota plains? In my family it was presented by my great aunt Martina who was Danish. It waits to be made with Minot State University applesauce. This cake keeps well; in fact, it is better on the second day allowing you to invite two groups of Minot State alumni for coffee and memories.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

teaspoon ground allspice

teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

cup white sugar

cup light brown sugar plus 2 tablespoons

cup softened butter

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup chopped raisins

One 16 oz. jar applesauce

2 medium eggs at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Flour and grease a 9×13 baking pan. (I have a vintage green enameled pan that I like to use; it is one of the few times I like to serve the cake right out of the pan! It adds to cozy feeling of sitting around with coffee mugs in hand, engaging in great conversation, and everyone being at ease.)

In a large bowl, sift the flour together with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice, cloves and cinnamon. Stir in the sugars. Add the softened butter, cup of water, then the pecans. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for about 2 minutes, keep the bowl sides tidy. Use a rubber spatula to blend in each delicious drop. Next add the applesauce and eggs and beat an additional 2 minutes or less. Pour into the prepared pan, tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles then smooth with the back of a spoon.

Bake in oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan. Frost with your favorite caramel or penuche frosting.

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