Posts Tagged: Driftless

Bill Beard: Probituary – A Notice of Life!

BillBeard2Interview and Introduction by Jen Johnson and Lor Miller – This probit originally appeared in the “Summer” 2012 issue of Inspire(d).

At the age of 99, William (Bill) Beard still resides on the land where he grew up in Decorah and takes comfort in the home he and a nephew built for his family – wife Betty and daughter Grace. With his wife and all of his siblings now deceased, Bill and his sister-in-law Laura call each other every morning to make sure they made it through the night all right. It’s something he looks forward to, and this daily routine of family taking care of family has always been a part of his life. His grandfather lived with him growing up, along with one of his aunts, so there was always family around. Bill peels his potatoes for dinner, bakes a cake for dessert, and likes to eat it with ice cream every night! He is a sport of a fellow, enjoys watching the birds outside his windows, and is always up for a game of checkers or cards with the kids. Listening about their lives, activities, or jokes, he’s always a dear to tell us some of his memories too.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Always tell the truth.

And advice you might offer to us?

Keep your head to the game and stay on top of things. (If Bill sees something that needs to be done, he does it! He always had chores to do at home and he feels that kids should have chores to help them learn to take responsibility for things.) Don’t live beyond your means. If you don’t have the money for something, you simply shouldn’t buy it.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a farmer. My dad and grandfather were both farmers. It was fun to work with the baby animals when they were first born. As a boy, I took care of the sheep. At 2:00 in the morning, I’d get dressed, give them some milk and bring them into the kitchen for the night if it was too cold outside. We’d put wood in the kitchen stove to keep them warm and dry. But they weren’t used to the linoleum floor and they’d fall down! As a farmer, you worked hard and then played hard. (Bill said he used to just dream of Sundays. They would take the day off from farm work and go to church while his mom or Aunt Bess would stay home and cook. After church, they would pack a big picnic and head off to find a good spot by the creek. After eating well, they took off their shoes to play in the creek or just lie down on the grass and enjoy it.)

What did you do?

I was a farmer. We had animals, corn, oats, barley, and hay. You do everything that needs to be done. One of the benefits about being a farmer is directly benefiting from the work you put in. Dreaming of a warm fire in winter was motivation to cut and chop wood, just as pulling a roast out of the freezer for a meal was motivation to care well for the animals you raised. You take care of the animals, and they’ll take care of you. You knew that if you didn’t do the work involved, you would lose out on some of the most enjoyable moments. (We commented to Bill that it sounded like despite all the hard work, his life was good. He smiled and said, “Well, it did have its not so good times as well. But there’s no use dwelling on the bad parts. People have enough troubles as it is, so you need to remember the good parts.” We think this attribute of counting his blessings is a large part of what keeps Bill so happy and healthy.)

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?

With a chuckle, Bill says with practicality, “Something to drink, a pillow and some covers, and something to eat.” Name one thing you could not live without. (Again, the realist) “water.”

If you could eat anything for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Potatoes and gravy, some kind of hamburger, most any kind of fruit, and for dessert, ice cream.

Tell us about (meeting your wife and) your wedding day…

The pastor at the church had set up a night of games for the single boys and single girls. Betty was a good church woman, and I thought I could probably get along with her. She was a teacher and was due to go back home at the end of the school year. I asked her if she ever thought about marriage, and she said, why yes, she did. The wedding was the first day of September. She lived down in Burlington, and I had driven down the day before. Some of the family had to stay home to do chores, so it was her family plus my mother and father. After the wedding, Betty and I started off on our honeymoon. We were driving around the state and up into Minnesota. We got to Minneapolis and decided that was too big a town for us — we got out quick! So Decorah it remains yet today.

Making A Scene Pt. 5 – Bob Holtan and KDEC Radio

Bob Holtan – KDEC Radio

This is Part 5 of a series on inspiring individuals who help bring live entertainment to NE Iowa and the Driftless Region. Read the other interviews by clicking here.

BobHoltanKDEC FM 100.5 and KDEC AM 1240 have long been a part of the Decorah Community. Since the mid-90s, the stations have been run by Bob & Colleen Holtan, along with their daughter Jeni (and David) Grouws. KDEC was inducted to the 2014 Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and will be throwing a Wink-I Pepsi Party and sock hop with Mike Munson and The Old Fashioneds on Saturday, March 28 at the Hotel Winneshiek. Bob Holtan’s roots in helping make shows happen runs deep in the upper Midwest, and more than a bit of that has rubbed off on daughter / KDEC Morning show host / talented performer Jeni Grouws who has spun the pieces together for the March 28 party! Bob was also responsible for the ever famous Menard’s Jingle – but that’s a whole other story!

I(d): How long have you been involved in helping present events? How did you get into it?

BH: I got into show promotion as a radio station manager at WAXX in Eau Claire Wisconsin in 1976. I promoted Country music shows mainly (the list of artists runs about 100) in Eau Claire, Marshalltown & Fargo for our FM Country stations, but in addition also promoted several oldies shows in Marshalltown for KFJB AM and Standards shows (Glen Miller Band, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey Band, Buddy Rich Big Band, etc) in Eau Claire and Fargo.
I began with a Conway Twitty, Barbara Mandrell and Waylon Jennings Show in Eau Claire in 1976, when my then-boss, who had been promoting the station shows, moved to a new TV job in Austin Texas and I had to pick up the pieces. It was a great success, and I was hooked.

I(d): Do you have a most “exciting” live moment from an event?

BH: Lots and lots of them. Maybe the best moment was 1991 when I booked Brooks & Dunn in Fargo. I contracted them for $3500 in the spring, and when they got to the show in the fall they were on their third #1 Country song and were commanding a price of over $50,000. The Civic Center held 3000, and we fudged a bit so nearly 3400 fans could get in. The atmosphere was electric! It was the first time I found scalpers at one of our shows.
Maybe the worst moment was when I had to come out on stage in the middle of his performance to tell Country singer Johnny Rodriguez to quit singing to his piano player and turn around to face the audience or he wouldn’t be getting paid. It worked. He got his money and I never booked him again.
Another good & bad moment: I came out on the stage at UW-Eau Claire to introduce Johnny Cash. I was blinded by the spotlight and decided to walk directly out on a proscenium stage to the microphone, taking the shortest direct route. I stepped out onto thin air, dropped 6 feet, but landed right and bounced back up onto the stage before the audience quit gasping.

I(d): If you could present 1 show with anyone in the world, past or present, whom would it be andBobH_Colleen why?

BH: Tough question. Probably ABBA, since my wife continues to play their greatest hits cd after 20 years of it. We saw them on their final U.S. Tour in, I think 1979 at the St. Paul Civic Center. Of today’s artists, maybe Van Morrison. He’s still making great music 47 years after Brown Eyed Girl.

I(d): What are you most excited about in the near future?

BH: The KDEC Sock Hop will be a really fun night. It’ll be a thank you show for fans, particularly of our AM station, following the station’s induction in the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame over the 2014 Labor Day Weekend.

I(d): You’re at the show! Front Row, or standing in the wings?

BH: I always stood in the wings at my shows. The fans deserve all the best seats. It’s also a great way to see the artists perform: from the side, close by. I especially recall the show in Eau Claire when Dolly Parton was on-stage…



Peanut Butter Puddles… Recipe!

PB Puddles

Peanut Butter Puddles

…because it is definitely baking season again!

Here’s an old cookie recipe for Peanut Butter Puddles that a friend of Benji’s came up with several years ago. It has made the cut several times in the personal cook book and moving-across-country adventures, so we decided we should share it with you! The thumb-print aspect and puddles add some fun tasks for little hands to help as well –  Enjoy firing up that oven and staying warm…

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup chocolate chips (yep, again!)
1/3 cup peanut butter +/-

-Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter (from wet ingredient list) together slowly in sauce pan or double boiler.
-Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl
-Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl and add this mixture to your slightly cooled off melted PB/Chocolate chip mixture.
-Place wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined into a nice cookie dough.
-Drop by Tablespoon size and leave a thumbprint in the middle of each dough ball to form a small pool…
-Put a dab of extra peanut butter (you choose how much!) in each thumbprint and bake for 12 minutes (or less) at 350F degrees.

You can use creamy or chunky peanut butter of just about any kind – to make these super over the top, try the “grind your own” bulk peanut butter from the Oneota Food Coop (or another food coop!). Smucker’s natural is also a decent option, or of course whatever you have on hand! Feel free to experiment with amounts or add your own spices for the holidays (cinnamon? peppermint pieces? Whoohoo!)