My NCAA Champ

It’s March Madness — that wonderful time of year when the fans of 67 teams get mad because their hoopsters got knocked out of the bracket, while the fans of 1 team get to go completely berserk and set things on fire.

Back in 1941, the NCAA tournament included eight teams and nine non-televised games. There was no bracket, no Clark Kellogg, and no Vegas odds. Ah, the good old days.

Also, the trophy was way cooler than it is now.


Wisconsin won that year.

They beat Washington State 39-34.

It was the last time the Badgers won the NCAA championship.

My uncle was on that team.

Can you pick him out in this picture?


No, he wasn’t number 35 — that’s the big man, Gene Englund.

Nope, my uncle didn’t wear number 36 either. That’s Johnny Kotz, the tournament’s most outstanding player.

Uncle Morris isn’t in the first row or the second row.

He’s not number 26 in the back row.

In fact, he doesn’t have a number.

My uncle is the guy on the far left of the picture in the suit and tie, standing right behind Head Coach Bud Foster.


He was the team manager.

(At least he didn’t have to wear those goofy socks attached to what looks like knee pads. What in the world?)

My uncle, Morris Bradley, was a 22 year old college student and he was having the time of his life.

When the team got back to Madison in the wee hours of a rainy March night, they were greeted by hundreds of fans. The champions were given a ride around the Capitol in a fire engine. Unfortunately, the fire engine caught fire so the parade was cut short. A reporter from the Cap Times newspaper quoted my uncle as saying, “Everybody had to pile off, and we were on our own from then on.” So I guess you could say they started a fire in Madison that night.

This year, as we cheer on our teams, let’s tip our hats to the guys on the bench with the water bottles and clip boards. In honor of my Uncle Morris.


The Silver Drawer

“It is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.” Zechariah 10:1


The sound of a thunderstorm makes some people nervous, but I’ve always loved the rumble in the heavens. When I was little, we would sit on the front porch and watch the summer storm clouds roll in over the cornfields. I must have picked up on my mother’s calmness, because I never felt the urge to dive under my bed and plug my ears. Instead, we counted the seconds between thunder claps and lightning bolts as we kept an eye out for the men coming in from the field.

Occasionally, if the skies turned an eerie yellow and the air hung heavy, we would scamper down to the basement to wait out the windstorm. A call always went out as we hurried down the stairs, “Don’t forget the silver drawer.”

The silver drawer was pulled out of the hutch and carefully carried down the steps to safety. Those knives and forks were the real deal, not stainless steel every-day utensils. This was silver silverware — the kind that needed to be polished before every holiday meal. The kind that was washed and dried by hand so it wouldn’t tarnish. The kind that was rolled up in felt pouches and placed into a special wooden chest. The kind you would take to the cellar if there happened to be a tornado warning.

I didn’t understand the value of that treasured box at the time. I grew up thinking that every family kept their drawer full of silverware close by during times of trouble.

Thunder still congers up feelings of family and safety and the fun of unexpected time together in the basement on a muggy summer evening. Today that silverware is in my house, in the same hutch, in the same chest, in the same felt pouches. And, naturally, I will haul that drawer downstairs if the winds blow hard enough.

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders.”   Psalm 29:3

Men From My Past

Oh. You probably thought I was going to share about my 4th grade crush or my sophomore prom date.  Sorry.  PB is the only man in my heart, but there are lots of fascinating men in my past.

Today I’d like to introduce John Dudley Powell.


Isn’t he a handsome feller?

It’s his birthday today. He’s 158 years old.

John Powell was my great-grandmother’s brother. He was born on June 24, 1858 in Baraboo, Wisconsin. When J.D. was 28 years old, he took his new bride, Lola, to homestead in Montana. His parents and four brothers also went west, leaving my great-grandmother behind in Wisconsin with her husband, two little girls and newborn son.

John and Lola spent five years in Jefferson City, Montana, and then went to the town of Pony, where their only child, Hollis, was born. Soon after, they settled in Livingston, Montana, where John went into business with Amos Shaw. Together they formed the Shaw & Powell Camping Company in 1898.

shaw and powell

They were among the first to take wagon-loads of tourists through Yellowstone National Park. As business grew, they built permanent overnight camps with luxury accommodations.


This article was from a Shaw & Powell satisfied customer:

“It is in the Shaw & Powell Yellowstone camps that the whole-hearted good spirit of a holiday recreation is found. No tourist can hope to make such a trip without at once becoming a member of the Shaw & Powell family of grown-up children out for a Sunday School picnic that lasts every inch of the 146 miles through the wonderland. . . . Seven permanent camps are operated by the company through the park. In these camps the main buildings, such as dining rooms, kitchen and general reception hall, are of log construction, sanitary and fly-proof. The sleeping quarters are of semi-tent construction with board floors and walls, wooden panel doors and furnished with beds that equal the comforts of most any home.
     The cuisine of the Shaw & Powell method is a point which no tourist will overlook. The company owns and operates its own truck gardens, which furnish each camp with a supply of fresh vegetables as needed. Fresh milk and cream are obtained daily from private dairies and all meals, prepared by the most efficient of women cooks, are served by young women of refinement. Maids are employed at every camp to attend women travelers who are unescorted.
    The Shaw & Powell company provides a variety of park tours averaging four, five and six days within the park. The cost is not in excess of $35, which it should be borne in mind, includes all meals, sleeping accommodations and the trip from point to point in large, clean coaches.” 


They even had their own dishes with the exclusive Shaw & Powell logo.


If you ever see one of these at a garage sale or thrift store, please buy it and send it to me. One evening, when the cook took sick, John and Lola cooked supper for the campers. He might have touched this very bowl.

My great uncle John D. was in the right place at the right time and cashed in on the tourist business. In his letters to his sister back in Wisconsin, he expressed great love for “The Park”.

People who were among the first to see Yellowstone also spoke in awe of its beauty.

“Our camps are located on some of God’s most beautiful garden spots. One of the bright and lasting memories of our trip will be our camp fires. The pine logs are piled high and set on fire and everybody gathers around it as one large family. There is no formality here. Singing, stories and visiting are the pastime of the evening with pop corn and candy mixed in. It is often a great pleasure to just sit quiet and watch the fire and think what a great privilege it is for us to be permitted to be here.”

Happy birthday, J.D. Thanks for your adventurous spirit.

It is, indeed, a great privilege for us to be here.


Sorry, Pussycat

Last week I wrote about funny sayings that families have.

Have you ever heard this one?

“Sorry” won’t feed the admiral’s pussycat.

Yeah, well, Google hasn’t heard of it either.

I remember hearing it in our home when I was a kid, though.

I have a feeling this family adage was once the punchline of a joke.

I have a feeling that it had something to do with an admiral’s cat that didn’t get fed and thus, met it’s demise.

I have a feeling that it means you can’t make everything right by just saying “sorry”.

But obviously, I don’t know for sure.

It hit me today,

that with both my parents now gone,

I have no way to find out.

Why didn’t I ever ask about the admiral’s pussycat?


Taking Charge

Sometimes I’m a take-charge kind of person.

If I see something that needs to be done and nobody is doing it, I don’t mind stepping up to the plate and gettin’ ‘er done.  However, if there is someone in my midst who has more take-charge-ness than me, I am more than happy to step down and let somebody else get ‘er done.

Taking charge can be a good thing when there needs to be some leadership to accomplish a task.  Taking charge can be a bad thing when it’s motivated by control and comes off as bossiness.

So, I had to smile when I read this scripture:

“Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.'”   Mark 3:20-21

Families are funny that way.  We tend to think we have a right to interfere.  As a mother, I’ve done my fair share of meddling.  And I’m not proud of it.  Jesus’ family seemed to think it was time to put an end to the craziness and take Him back to the carpenter’s shop where He belonged.  But Jesus didn’t let His mother and brothers derail His mission.  Trying to control adult children doesn’t work any better now than it did 2,000 years ago.

Besides, who can take charge of Jesus?

I need Him to take charge of me.


Glory Days

It’s been a glorious two weeks.

For a window of time, all the kids were home along with spouses, fiance and grands.

Counting PB and me, that makes thirteen…and counting.

Two more babes will join the tribe this year.

Here are some lessons from the past two weeks:

Keep looking out for each other.

E and E

You can never have too many bubbles.


If you just keep sucking it up, something good will happen.


Chocolate chip cookies are best at Nonnie’s house.


Make sure you get a little sunshine every day.


Things aren’t scary when someone big is holding you.


It doesn’t matter if you have a booger hanging out of your nose as long as you’re happy.


Double chins are cute.

Eli napping

Don’t under-estimate the power of a good nap.

Ella napping

These are the Glory Days.

Best Fam