In Your Community: Brownsdale Study Club

Published 6:25 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

After a three month hiatus, the Brownsdale Study Club met at the home of Therese Manggaard. The April 20 meeting was called to order by president Shelly Vogel. After the reading of the Collect, the December minutes and treasurer’s report were read and accepted. Four members responded to the roll call, “If I were a mouse in the corner…”

Under old business, Therese reported that she hand delivered the Study Club’s donation to a local couple dealing with health issues.

Under new business, Mary attended the Brownsdale Business Association meeting. The community Ice Cream Social will be held on June 20. Deb Smith would like to showcase all the local clubs, groups and organizations at this event. She invited the Brownsdale Study Club to participate. After discussion, it was decided that Mary and Shelly would set up a table. Therese will print a little background information on the club to hand out. She will also furnish a succulent bowl that will be given away as a door prize.

Shelly announced that the Brownsdale Library has an ongoing book sale – free will offering.

Therese made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Mary.

Mary gave a historical reading that was published in a 2001 issue of the Albert Lea Tribune titled, “Wards’ demise Catalog giant Montgomery Ward’s closure is the end of an era for small-town America.” In 1872 Montgomery Ward conceived the idea of buying merchandise in large quantities from manufacturers and selling directly to farmers for cash, with a money-back-if-not-satisfied policy. His first catalog was one page but within a few years became a thick magazine. Later it became a 600 page publication. Farms and small town families soon relied on the catalogs for clothing, household items, toys and even agricultural equipment. Minnesotan Richard Sears became a competitor in 1896. In this area, there were Montgomery Ward stores in Albert Lea, Austin, Mankato, Owatonna, and Rochester. Following World War II the American retail business experienced changes. Target, Wal-Mart and K-Mart were expanding. Costs for printing catalogs as well as postage were on the rise. The catalog operations were discontinued in 1986. Wards declared bankruptcy in 1997.

Shelly gave a presentation on the process of the Krieger family to get their father Neil’s word, “orbisculate” into the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Neil coined the word in college and used it his whole life, as if it were a real word. He defined the meaning as “When you dig your spoon into a grapefruit and it squirts juice directly into your eye.” Neil passed away from complications from COVID-19 in April 2020 at the age of 78. Daughter Hilary and son Jonathan hatched an elaborate 78 point plan to get the word officially recognized. Their website orbisculate.com encourages people to sign a petition, outlines their goals and even buy a T-shirt (which supports families in mourning). The family hopes to recapture some of the joy of pre -COVID days.