Herald and Journal
Herald & Journal, February 8, 1999

Here's looking at you, Myron

By Jane Otto

For more than five years, Myron Heuer taught us local history, doused us with trivia, made us laugh, sigh, think and take notice, all through his columns.

Myron died last Monday.

What better way is there to remember him here than through the columns he wrote?

Through his words, he welcomed us into his thoughts, his past, and even, to visit him at his home in Wisconsin.

We met his family. We came to know his pet peeves, his love for music, history, and his country.

Local history was a favorite subject of his. He wasn't afraid to tackle the local historians when he wrote about the changes in Howard Lake; changes he tried to document since his high school graduation in 1945.

Main Street in Howard Lake was one of the first columns he wrote and it generated a flurry of responses. He welcomed the input, though, and made apologies for his mistakes:

Putting together these stories was a bigger chore than I had expected . . . I learned one thing for sure. Back during my live radio broadcasting days, if you made a slip of the lip, or a mistake of any kind, it was gone in a split second. But, if you make a mistake in a newspaper, it's there forever, until it is put into a recycling bin, shredder, or in the bottom of the bird cage.

If you put it into a bird cage, of course, eventually your mistake will be 'covered up.'

Myron also wrote about the Dustin Massacre, Sylvan Cemetery, and the Wright County desperados. We reminisced with him about harvesting ice on Howard Lake in the '30s; Herbert Luhman, the milkman; and Cafferty's ghost.

We met his old cronies, Alvin Hengel and Jerome Rasmussen, and their old haunts, Elmer's Shoe Shop and Willard Workman's Pool Hall.

He recalled, probably one of his most memorable evenings, when he and his wife, Betty, had dinner at the White House, April 17, 1978:

Jimmy Carter was president then and a country music fan. He learned that the Country Music Association, of which Myron was a member, was in town so he invited them to dinner.

During the course of the evening Mr. and Mrs. Carter milled through the crowd. Carter came by, said hi, and smiled. No small talk, though. What do you say to the president at a party?

Myron broached just about any subject, from nicknames to ice cream cones, from carbon paper:

No secretary in the world misses that.

to lawn mowers:

Who started this lawn care stuff anyway?

Of course, when you have your own column, you can voice your opinion, and Myron did that, too.

On cartoons:

Now some so-called do-gooders are saying the cartoons are too violent for our children to see. Maybe the Power Rangers or the Ninja Turtles, but not Bugs, Porky or Sylvester. Sufferin' succotash, it was just plain fun. We never ran around dropping anvils on unsuspecting coyotes. Only the Road Runner did that.

On etiquette:

There are many common courtesies we ignore. When someone holds the door open for you, do you say, "Thank you?" . . Wasn't it Captain Kangaroo who always told his young viewers to say 'please' and 'thank you?' Those viewers are now adults. Listen to your captain.

On car trouble:

It's always aggravating when your car breaks down without warning. If you have warning signs, it wouldn't be so bad. Usually when the 'check engine' light comes on, it's too late.

On holiday loneliness:

Then, of course, there's the telephone. Use it during the holidays to talk to your friends and relatives. Many do, of course, but many more could. A Christmas card is fine, but a follow-up phone call would make it even better.

Myron had his own personal crisis when he suffered a stroke in June 1995. He shared that moment and his recovery with us. He informed us of the warning signs of a stroke and taught us about aphasia - speech and language disorders after a stroke or head injury.

He showed us the hardships of a stroke and its long recovery, but he wouldn't let you feel pity. That's when his saving humor really surfaced.

Why do they call it a 'stroke' anyway? It'd be more accurate to call it a 'brain attack.'

While undergoing therapy, he told us:

These gals had numerous tricks up their sleeves to 'torture' me. Walking sideways and crossing your legs at the same time was another trick. Walking the stairs was scary the first time, but I got good at it. I got an 'A' in Stairs 101.

The first time I heard the word aphasia, I thought is was a cute name for a baby girl.

Two years after his stroke, Myron voluntarily suspended his driver's license, deciding that he would be a menace behind the wheel. He strongly believed seniors should take a road test and a vision test every five years after they reached 60.

I've had my time behind the wheel. It's time to hang up the keys.

I still carry the car keys in my pocket, just in case lightening strikes and I can drive again. No, really, I keep a set in my pocket in case my wife loses her keys.

In those five years, Myron wrote about so much and I give it little justice here.

When it came to his articles, Myron was always more than on-time. He would give us a month's worth of articles almost a month in advance. With his March columns, there was a note from Betty saying that she wasn't sure if there would be more.

So, for a few more weeks, we can see the world through Myron's eyes. But after that . . . Myron, you will be missed.

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