My Fascination Skipped Two Generations...

We have all heard the saying “the apple doesn't fall far from the tree” and in my case, that apple may have skipped a couple of generations! I have always had a great relationship with my grandpa Alan, and recently, after asking a few questions, had the pleasure of finding out just how much I have in common with not only him (quick wit), but with his dad, my great grandpa, Carl .

A couple of years ago, while I was home visiting my family in Fergus Falls, I started asking my grandparents questions about their childhoods (something I feel we ALL need to do more often), and found out that I was not the first one in our family to have a career strongly integrated with community politics and economic development. In fact, my great grandpa Carl led a life and career which very much compliments the current efforts of Decklan Group. Not only was he deeply rooted in the Fergus Falls community through his position as Editor and Writer for The Fergus Falls Daily Journal, but he later decided to throw hat in the ring and run for Otter Tail County Commissioner.

Below is a picture of my Grandpa Alan and me, going through boxes of Carl’s publications, campaign memorabilia and personal mementos. Over 100 years later, it is incredible looking at old newspapers, letters and clippings from the early 1900s.

While editor of the paper, Carl published a very popular daily column, entitled Bill Whatshisname, and Rambler Column, which would include witty one-or two liners, which incorporated current events, and occasionally, community stakeholders. Below are several excerpts of Bill WHATSHISNAME:

Carl’s writing was so respected, that the Literary Digest, an influential weekly magazine, published nationwide, published four different excerpts from his “Rambler Column”. The clipping below was published in the Fergus Falls Daily Journal, saying “It is seldom that any writer anywhere has four clippings reproduced in the Digest in any single week, and goes to show that Mr. Snowberg’s writings are attracting national attention.”

As I mentioned earlier, Carl sat on the Otter Tail County Commission, and became known for his cutting-edge, smart Alec campaigning tactics. While looking through his things, I read countless handwritten and typed letters from readers, other elected officials and even the Governor of Minnesota, praising him for his forward thinking, and brave, humorous approach to both his daily newspaper publications, and highly publicized (back then) run for office. There were also a handful of negative letters from people who weren't too pleased by his out-of-the-box writing style.

As you can see in his campaign material below, Carl used his popular character, Bill Whatshisname to gain credibility and connect with his constituents:

Bill Whatshisname, hydrant philosopher and friend of the common people, leaned languidly in front of the Uppertown Café. The crowds surged around him.

Said Bill: “I see my ghostwriter (the fellow on the opposite side of this card) has his hat in the ring. Let’s help him hang it on the hat rack in the county commissioner’s room. “

“He is nothing much to look at, but neither was Lincoln.”

For those of you who know me, I’m the first one to (jokingly, depending on who you ask) tell people I’m kind of a big deal, and now I finally know where I got not only my humility from!