Living and working the small-town newspaper life is a great way to collect stories and people. I have many happy memories, stretching back to my first newspaper job, of the characters I met and can still conjure up. There was the retired couple who raised an orphaned deer fawn as a pet in their house, the farmer who built a huge business in birdseed, and the family I was assigned to write a feature on because “they are so nice.”
I also have a list of the ones that got away — people I wanted to do stories on for years but never quite got around to it before… well, before the inevitable.
Fred Bereswill is one of those who got away — mostly. This accomplished gentleman, also from a distant past in Minnesota, was a Carnation City Councilman, active volunteer in the schools and story-teller extraordinaire. Self-effacing, too like almost every Midwesterner I’ve ever known. In my work covering Carnation for this and other newspapers, I’ve written about Fred’s actions and statements, but never really about the man, to my personal loss.
My first memory of meeting Fred was at a Carnation council meeting, on his return from a trip to Argentina, where he saw the Magellanic Penguins. He told me all about the birds and their life cycle, but never once mentioned what else he did in the country. Since I am fascinated by penguins, I like to think that he was there just for them.
If I’d still been at my first newspaper job, Fred and his wife Lois are one of those families I would have been assigned to write about just because of their charms. They seemed to dote on each other, teaming up to tell stories of their courtship in a tandem comedy routine that I smile in remembering.
Both were true yarn-spinners and their magic increased when they were together, which they usually were. I rarely saw one without the other, and I saw them a lot, out in the Carnation community. Just two years ago, they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.
Losses are by definition, difficult, and some have a late or lasting impact. I have a feeling this is one of them.
Good-bye Fred, and thank you for the stories. Every one you told was too short.