Highlights for April 2020
We can all use some lifting up during this time of pandemic, so we begin this issue with Grundtvig’s hymn “If you are feeling low, dear friends.” Our regular contributor Hanna Broadbridge relates Grundtvig’s state of mind in writing the hymn to the current place we find ourselves, sharing what Denmark has done in its confrontation with the coronavirus.
A large part of this issue involves reflections on Michigan history as a way to acknowledge that the state appears to be one of the growing COVID-19 “hot spots.” Using material from the “100 Years Ago” column in the Manistee News Advocate, I offer the first of a two-part series that looks at Manistee, Michigan during the first wave of the 1918 flu epidemic. Keeping in mind that next month will be about the second wave, it might be instructive for today, illustrating the tendency to celebrate prematurely.
Staying in Michigan and following on last month’s article about folk schools in the U.S., several pieces from archived materials shed light on the legacy of the Ashland Folk School. The first two are from Chester A. Graham and John E. Kirkpatrick who were instrumental in developing an American folk school at Ashland, followed by an article illustrating the role of the school and of the Danish singing tradition in the Michigan farm labor movement.
Michigan-born and former president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO Retiree Council Dan Mikel shares a review of the book Leadership in Turbulent Times.
A poem by Jim Djonte, shared at last summer’s Danebod Folk Meeting, speaks of compost, relevant not only for the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day observances but also in the Easter season as a message of new life through death.
Tom Riley, father of Kirsten Riley whose death was reported last month, shares a touching poem about his daughter.
Finally, a word search challenge of places where Danes settled is thrown in for light distraction.
Danish Church Preservation
Research for the article about the 1918 flu epidemic in Manistee, Michigan yielded news of a current effort to rehabilitate Old Savior’s Lutheran Church in Manistee, regarded as the oldest Danish Lutheran Church in the United States. Besides a March 7, 2020 article posted by the Manistee News Advocate, an April 6, 2020 Facebook post by the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers speaks of this campaign. Now operating as the Old Kirke Museum, funds for a new roof and wheel-chair accessibility are being solicited. Donations for this effort are to be sent to the Old Savior’s Historical Society, 304 Walnut St., Manistee, MI 49660.
My special needs sister Lisa is notorious for her questions, wanting to know what will happen and when it will happen. Our father would raise his finger and answer, “We’ll just have to wait and see.” That applies to all of us now. Before proceeding with sending out registration material for the Danebod Fall Folk Meeting, the planning committee will be assessing the pandemic situation in late April or early May. Stay tuned for an update.
Belated Birthday Greetings to Joy Ibsen, former Church and Life editor,
who turned 80 years young on April 1, no foolin’!
Bridget Lois Jensen