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Observations from the archives, 2003: Joe Capistrant retires from teaching after 34 years

1913, 100 years ago: Mr. Nels Bye and G.A. Kortsch, on behalf of the County Agricultural Society, met with the county board and asked for $500 for the Douglas County Fair. This was to pay for the premiums for school exhibits. Also in county fair planning, Mr. Walstead asked if there was not some way the saloons could be closed during the days of the fair. Several of his district residents had spoken to him about this. O'Brien said he did not suppose that this could be done, "Anyway, the children do not go into the saloons." But Walstead believed that "even the sight of seeing others going in and the results of the business would have a bad moral effect upon the children and if closed, the condition for all concerned would be much better. With the saloons doing business, they see the fruits of the traffic."

1963, 50 years ago: John O. Perino, seaman second class, U.S. Navy, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Perino, Alexandria, has finished basic training at the U.S. Naval Training Center, San Diego, California. John was presented a letter of commendation for outstanding performance of duty while undergoing training. During this period of time he displayed the qualities of initiative, perseverance and devotion to duty and loyalty to the Navy. John has 14 days leave before reporting to Memphis, Tennessee, for the aviation electronics school for 32 weeks of schooling. The Park Region Echo showed workmen in the process of laying pipe and constructing wall frames for the new addition to Alexandria's Bethany Home. Total cost of the addition, plus improvements to the present structure, will be approximately $850,000, of which $369,520 has been provided through an Accelerated Public Works Progress Act federal grant.

1988, 25 years ago: Paul McCarten, project coordinator for the new Douglas County court facilities, was pictured in the new law library named in honor of his father, John J. McCarten, a longtime Alexandria attorney who died in 1985. It took more than nine years of planning to complete the project, which included two court rooms, assembly rooms, a law library, jury deliberation and conference rooms, offices and rest rooms. Minnesota Supreme Court Justice John E. Simonett took part in the dedication, Judge Paul Ballard was the master of ceremonies and Roland Kronberg, Douglas County commissioner, gave an appreciation speech. The new John J. McCarten Memorial Law Library was officially dedicated by Joe G. Thornton, a longtime Alexandria attorney. The project cost more than $500,000.

2003, 10 years ago: After 34 years of teaching art at Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Joe Capistrant is retiring. He reminded Principal Joe Hill that he began teaching at the school before Hill was even born. Capistrant viewed the changes in technology as one of the most positive things to happen during his career, along with "the expansion of choices available to girls and women, academically, athletically and in leadership as being especially important," adding, "people who are most fulfilled in life seem to have learned a lot about those things that bring meaning and joy to their lives."

Just for fun - Park Region Echo in 1963: "Ever suddenly knock your pipe out of your mouth while fishing and watch it bounce off the side of the boat and sink. Drat the %**! Daggone luck! Well, it's easy to guard against this loss. Just take a length of light line, monofil is best, and tie it to the pipe where the stem joins the shank. Other end you make fast to a button on your shirt. (No, it won't pull the button off, wise guy.)

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Rachel Barduson of Alexandria is a regular contributing columnist to the Echo Press Opinion page.