Commentary: Memorable experiences must be sharedHere we are within the transfer from a wild winter to a wild spring.
By: Karen Murray Broadhead, Ellsworth, The Republican Eagle
/by Karen Murray Broadhead
Here we are within the transfer from a wild winter to a wild spring. Those of us who live in Wisconsin and employed in Minnesota are being asked to pursue arrangements so we can make it to work if the Red Wing Bridge closes due to flooding.
Interestingly, that is exactly what happened in 1965 when I worked downtown Red Wing at the local Sears outlet. I was 19.
April of 1965 was quite the adventure as Wisconsinites employed in Minnesota kept their schedules.
I know the weather was sunny and bright the week we were transported by Sorenson’s fishing launch and barge across the risen flood waters to the north end of the bridge. We disembarked and walked across to our jobs in downtown or were shuttled to jobs on the west end of Red Wing. It was stressful and relaxing at the same time.
On one day, I remember being finished with my job at one o’clock. I had errands to run and then I walked three blocks to the Super Valu store and purchased a bag of non-perishable groceries. Then I walked the three blocks back and turned the corner to the bridge.
When I reached the crest of the bridge deck, I could see the launch below waiting for the factory shift-workers to arrive. My errands had taken about an hour. After greeting each other, I stood “dockside” as the launch operator and I kept our silence.
His voice was clear and decisive as he said he may as well take me over even though he wasn’t supposed to make trips with a single person aboard. If he didn’t do that favor, I would be waiting approximately two hours for the launch to fill when the factories changed shifts.
This was the relaxing moment of the week. I was able to devour portions of the flooded scenery not available to me when the launch was scrunched full of people.
It was a silent voyage except for the chugging of the launch’s engine.
It made me think of the movie “The African Queen” as the brilliant greens and yellow-greens of spring foliage glittered in the shimmering, shadowed waters. Birds flitted across the landscape and disappeared within the graceful arc of trees.
I was just beginning to wish the trip would last longer and it ended just south of the Back Channel Bridge. I walked across the bridge, taking my time. My car was parked along Wisconsin Highway 63, beyond the intersection at the top of the hill.
I know there are many, many devastating memories of that flood and all flooding since, but to have been part of a memorable experience is always meant to be shared whether good or bad. The clarity of that solo voyage remains encapsulated within my memory.