Wednesday, July 2, 2008


HOW WE GOT TV: We had none, but the Sorensens next door had a big one. The 4 youngest Lyons boys would sit on our stair-landing and watch games on S’s set (listening on radio).Sorensons considerately left their curtain open, moved the set near the window.

Finally we got a set. Unfortunately, Mother believed it was unhealthy to watch TV
in a lighted room, so living/dining areas were dark every evening. After college classes,(one hour from home to college) I’d take bus downtown Mpls from St. Paul and work for 4 hours in factory; then I’d come home to find dark area; Nancy and her future husband were always courting (for years!) in kitchen.
By odds, someone was sleeping in each bedroom, so I had to do homework in single bathroom—very busy!

Luckily, St.Thomas standards were very lax,
so I could do homework during hours on bus each day.


Charlie Lyons Coughlin, Leonard Lyons’ cousin

Became a millionaire/ hired to beat up on unions, he took over Briggs-Stratton corp.He donated a bell-tower to his almaMater, So.Dak.U, so he was then known as
‘Silo Charlie’.

I met him once, dropped in while hitchhiking around Milwaukee. His wife, Coletta , still did the cooking (awful!)—but he had a full-wall closet filled with shoes. (One significant feature of poverty is worn-out childrens’ shoes.)

He visited us once in Cresco, found out we had no radio, and donated a huge floor set which we used during my entire childhood. We then realized how rich he was, and resented that he did not give more to us.

A tragic/comic contact with my father:
We were desperate, so Dad took mother’s expensive wedding ring for collateral, and went off to borrow $1k from Charlie.
Charlie took the ring—but then he and Dad went out drinking, and Dad returned with almost no money, but a suitcase full of frozen ducks.

Charlie kept the ring for years, until Dad was more solvent, could pay back the loan. Mother never forgave him.