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Happy New Year (01/01/2012)
By Frances Edstrom

Itís odd, isnít it, how much faith we put in the mere turn of a calendar page. Not since I was in eighth grade, baby-sitting on New Yearís Eve and watching the ball come down at Times Square on the television have I actually felt that somehow things would be dramatically different in the morning and in the coming year.

Today we have a story about the beginning of the Winona Post ó the Winona Shopper of forty years ago. I remember those years with a great deal of clarity, probably because they were so full of trepidation and fear of the unknown. I was pregnant with our first child, a fact we shared with the family on Christmas morning. We were extremely happy at the prospect of becoming parents and having our own little family. But at the same time, we had many bills to pay and didnít know where the money would come from. As we kissed at midnight that New Yearís Eve, I was torn between rejoicing about our good fortune to be having a baby, or crying over what I knew was going to be a tough period coming. What I probably did instead was fall asleep. I was tired all the time!

We had to tell our doctor, John Tweedy, that he probably wouldnít get paid in a timely manner. He waved off our concerns and said he knew weíd pay him sometime. (Now that was the ďolden daysĒ!)

We had no health insurance, and it was too late to get some that would help with the baby bills. Our business, though showing promise, had not come across with the cash as yet, and life was at best precarious. Luckily I was so naive that it didnít occur to me that a pregnancy could have complications, and mine didnít.

I continued to work in the office at the Winona Shopper, and at times had to go out to pick up ad copy, often a demoralizing task dressed in my tightening clothes. One retailer, who will remain unnamed to protect the guilty, shouted at me, ďI donít have time to get your ad copy together, Iím doing something important!Ē ó which turned out to be preparing ad copy for someone else. But then there were the nice guys like Erv Sieracki at the Cinderella Shoppe, and Lambert Kowalewski at the Hot Fish Shop, who always asked why I had a basketball under my shirt.

As I grew with the pregnancy, and an indulgence in Snickers bars, it became clear that I would not be able to continue wearing my clothes, which were already beginning to show wear since the previous year, when John was in graduate school. We didnít have money for clothes then, either, and what I did have was left over from college and a few items that I had bought for our wedding. My mother-in-law asked a neighbor to make a few maternity dresses for me, but they were actually pretty embarrassing. This was well before pregnant women worked until birth, and there were no cute shops devoted to the working mother-to-be. When Johnís aunt threw a shower for me I went to Spurgeons and bought the only maternity dress they had ó lime green with white polka dots ó ugh! But of course my shoes were brown clunkers that I had worn all winter. Couldnít afford a pair of new ones. (This was also before secondhand shops proliferated in Winona.)

We were able to borrow baby furniture, and our mothers came across with infant outfits and diapers. But little Cassidy was not the best-dressed baby on the block, a fact that she rarely holds against me. Strange, though, that her son, Harry, is definitely the best-dressed kid on his block!

But was that New Yearís Eve, that turn of the calendar page from 1971 to 1972, a sign that our fortunes would change and life would be a bowl of cherries? In some ways, decidedly yes ó†a new baby, being parents, learning how to run our business better. And in some ways no ó no money, no stability in our future, bills, bills, bills.

Now, as we look at a new year with us again, I know not to expect miracles. But on the other hand, I know from experience that just as 1972 brought us the lifelong happiness of a new baby, and that the painful parts of that year are simply memories, 2012 could well bring us much lasting happiness as well.

Hereís wishing all of you health and happiness in the new year.



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