Home Page

Search Winona Post:
   GO   x 
Advanced Search
  Issue Date:  
  Column / Category:  
  Current Issue  
  Past Issues  
   Help      Close     GO   Clear   
  Sunday February 1st, 2015    

 Submit Your Event 





| Home | Advertise with Us | Circulation | Contact Us | About Us | Send a Letter to the Editor |

  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
College friends (08/23/2006)
By Frances Edstrom

The return of the college kids to Winona coincided with a "cheer-you-up" phone call from my college roommate, Gayle, who now lives in Lake Holcombe, Wisconsin. Even though she is retired from teaching English and directing the school musical, she is still going a hundred miles an hour. That means that her thirty- minute call to catch me up on all she's doing was going fifty miles an hour, which is a lot to remember.

Gayle and I shared English majors and were both in the theater department at the College of Saint Teresa. She was from Owatonna, the daughter of Ed Viehman, a WCCO radio talk show host turned Josten's sales manager turned Al Quie campaign manager turned state Republican chairman. My first introduction to her was seeing her, a fellow freshman, parading proudly around campus in her "Goldwater Girl" cowboy outfit. As the button-down-blouse-pleated-skirt-wearing daughter of a New England Democrat, I was a little taken aback by her bigger than life persona.

But soon, as often happens when you are thrown in with another person because of your basic common interests, Gayle and I became friends, if not political allies.

Gayle's father, Ed, died of colon cancer at the age of 39, leaving his wife, Marge, to raise Gayle and a passel of younger boys. Gayle's teen years, then, included a lot of "mother" type work as the oldest child and only girl, and although I can't blame that experience entirely for her take-charge attitudes, it probably had a lasting effect. In fact, I think it's safe to conjecture that she still feels a motherly compunction to keep her brothers in line, even though they are all well-established with families of their own.

So by the time Gayle got to CST, she had honed a pretty strong personality, which, along with her considerable intelligence and many talents " singing and acting among them " made her a force to contend with.

She and I became roommates during the last half of our junior year. I had started out the year in a single room, as my soph roommate had gone off to St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester for the CST nursing program there.

I liked my single room. I came and went as I pleased. I had a nice rocking chair near the window where I could sit and read, now and then checking out the comings and goings at the front door of Lourdes Hall, and I answered to no one (except for the Dean of Students, who had her eye out for any, even the slightest, transgressions).

It escapes me now why Gayle's roommate left school, but in the new dorms, there were only double rooms, and this being the time of burgeoning enrollments, she could not stay in a double room by herself. So I left my spartan single cell, and moved to Loretto Hall and Gayle's room. And even though I was there, it still really remained Gayle's room.

Gayle would say she took me under her wing. From my point of view, she tried to run my life. She directed me and two other girls in a song and dance group that did shows,which she booked, at local nursing homes. She had something to say on nearly everything about me, including boyfriends and my shoes, one pair which she disapproved of so mightily that she "disappeared" them when I was away for the weekend. (None of the boyfriends engendered such an aversion, lucky for them.)

But we made it through and remained friends. I was in her show for her masters in theater at the U of M, and I was in her wedding. I visited her in Gays Mills, Wisconsin, where her husband was named superintendent of schools, and we were quite close during her years in Arcadia, where Denis Kirkman was school superintendent as well, and she was for years involved in the Miss Arcadia pageant, bringing one girl to the Miss Wisconsin title.

Now, she is in a movie, which is being shot in Chippewa Falls. One of the producers, Emery Skolfield, she tells me, is from Alma. (Although that may not be accurate. The production company info is to be found at wutwutalma.com). The other day they filmed at the high school in Chippewa Falls. Gayle and another women play the "old women," which means that in the hot weather, while the kids get to wear shorts and tank tops, the "old women" are dolled up in nylon stockings and heavy dresses. But, she's not complaining! She gets a laugh when she says her lines.

"It's amazing," she said, "how much you have to think about when you're filming on location." They found themselves taking breaks every time the maintenance man, who was mowing the grounds on a tractor, came into earshot. When he was finally done, they all breathed a sigh of relief " until the marching band appeared for practice! She's keeping me posted on when the movie will premier.

I wonder if the kids beginning their college days this week know that there is a real possibility that the people they see around campus and in their classes will become driving forces in their lives, lifelong friends and supporters. 


   Copyright 2015, Winona Post, All Rights Reserved.


Send this article to a friend:
Your Email: *
Friend's Email: *
 Back Next Page >>



| Home | Advertise with Us | Circulation | Contact Us | About Us | Send a Letter to the Editor |

Contact Us to
Advertise in the
Winona Post!