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Lord Fletcher’s; Winston; Memorial Day; A Giant! The Corn Palace; A Huge Love Note

Blogger’s Note: If you did not receive your email copy of the latest blog, which was published on Sunday, you may find it on the blog website at I’m not sure why the email version didn’t get sent out, but it probably had something to do with technical issues not being addressed by Google on the long holiday weekend.

On Sunday, My Lovely Bride was in need of a “recharge”, so we just hung out at our campsite in the morning and afternoon, did some “admin” chores, and went for an easy bike ride. By the evening we were ready to link up with the Hammond family again for a farewell to Minnesota dinner at Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. This traditional venue recalled fond memories for the Hammonds and gave us an insight into what lake lodge dining must have been like in the early 20th Century. We all had fish – the walleye, Mahi-Mahi and northern pike were all proclaimed exceptional. Here are Cris, MLB, Bill, Bill’s sons Brooks and Churchill, and Your Faithful Correspondent. Special thanks to Cris for this unique experience.

At the end of the meal, I had to freshen up, and on the way through the bar, found this portrait of one of my heroes, Winston Churchill. Apparently The British Bulldog was one of Bill Hammond’s heroes as well, having named his son after him… where are leaders like him today when we need them so badly?

Did you know that Winston’s mother, Jennie Jerome, was American, born and raised in Brooklyn and was considered one of the most beautiful women of her day? She was also an accomplished pianist, having been tutored by a friend of Chopin, and became Lady Churchill when she married Lord Randolph Churchill. Winston was born the year after their wedding; he worshiped his mother, and she became a political mentor to him due to her contacts in British politics and high society.

Monday morning found us getting underway for the next leg of our journey, into South Dakota. As we drove south on Minnesota Highway 60, we passed several Memorial Day ceremonies being held in small towns like St. Peter. Unfortunately, parking our coach on crowded downtown streets was not possible, so we had to keep driving. We said a silent prayer for Susan, our Marine Corps sergeant daughter whom we lost in 2006, and all of the service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

One of the towns we passed was Le Sueur, known locally as The Valley of the Jolly Green Giant. Here is the lad himself, standing tall and proud on a hillside.

We set up camp at the KOA in Mitchell, South Dakota, and after My Lovely Bride prepared a gourmet meal of seared scallops, pasta and sauteed peppers, we dashed off to town to see … The Corn Palace, one of the truly unique edifices in America. Built in a Moorish Revival style, it is used for public and private events, sports and concerts. What makes it unique is that it is decorated (inside and out) with art made from corn and other grains. All of the corn comes from one farm in Mitchell, and it costs $130,000 per year to replace the murals. Unfortunately we arrived during a thunderstorm late in the day, and couldn’t spend much time there before closing; nevertheless, the Corn Palace will be one of the highlights of our trip!

Finally, in thinking about Lady Churchill’s marriage, I recalled this banner being towed by a plane over Lake Michigan last week… the banner read, “Julia, I love you. Will you marry me? Love, Tony”. I don’t know who Tony is or what he does for a living, but I suspect he is destined for greatness. At the very least, he’s made a good start on his marriage.

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