Beginning excerpt from the first story in the book, “The Mine.”
The town meeting had gotten out of control. Everybody was talking at once. John banged his gavel, “Okay folks. Let’s have some order please!” Slowly the conversations stopped.
John had proposed a sign on US Highway 75 at the county line proclaiming Kittson County as the geographic center of the United States. He requested approval of two thousand dollars for the sign. It would help promote tourism for the county, he argued. Put the county on the map.
After Alaska and Hawaii became states, someone stretched a string on a globe from the most southern end of Florida to the most northern point of Alaska, and another string from the most northern point of Maine to the most southern point of Hawaii and they crossed right on top of Kittson County. John read this, found his kid’s globe, and tried it. Sure enough. The strings crossed over Kittson County. As mayor of Hallock, and Hallock being the county seat, he felt he should find a way to capitalize on this. A sign seemed like a good solution. He argued the sign would help promote Hallock as a tourist attraction. Businesses could sell souvenirs; there would be more buying of gas, lodging, food. New money would be flowing into Kittson County. But no one was listening after hearing: two thousand dollars.
Finally, John said, “Look. I’ll have a business promotion firm make a presentation at the next meeting. They can explain the benefits of promoting Kittson County.”
“I still won’t vote for it,” Swede said.
“I know,” John said. “But maybe the others will see it as a good idea.”
During the meeting, an Asian man dressed in a khaki shirt and pants walked in and sat down in the back row. He said nothing, never moved. Mayor John Johnson banged the gavel and announced the meeting was over. “Next meeting in two weeks.” As John was getting up from the conference table, the man approached. “Mr. Johnson, my name is Wong Chow. May I please speak with you?” He handed John his business card: Wong Chow, Chief Geologist. The name of the company was blacked out. John looked at the card and said, “What can I do for you?”
Wong looked around and said, “Not here, please. Need someplace more private.”
“Okay, let’s go into the side room over there,” he said pointing to a far door.
They sat down at a small conference table and Wong began, “We wish your permission to take soil samples on your land. But this must be kept in strict confidence. My company will pay you well for your permission, but please, this must be kept confidential.”
Henry Streed is a retired electrical engineer who specialized in the design of high-voltage substations. His work took him to most of the states and US territories including Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam, as well as many countries including Brazil (for more than three years), Sweden, China, Switzerland, and Germany.
Henry was raised in Kittson County, a farming community. He is thankful to have grown up there, with its small school class sizes, where he was able to participate in high school sports, and to enjoy the outdoors. He began writing as a hobby to stay busy. The stories unfolded in his mind, and once he got started, really didn’t know where they were going until written down on paper. The stories are for your reading enjoyment, and hopefully they impart a perspective of life in northern Minnesota. Henry and his wife, Carol, now spend most of their time at their condo on the Oregon Coast.
Paperbacks available from the author at: email@example.com.