Posts Tagged ‘Janesville’


Faribault Bethlehem Academy boys basketball coach Franz Boelter announced his retirement on Tuesday. In 36 years of coaching — six in tiny Medford, 30 more in the small private school about 50 miles south of Minneapolis — Boelter went 613-290, the seventh-most victories of any boys basketball coach in state history. He won 14 Gopher Conference championships at B.A., eight district and sub-section titles. His 1993 Cardinals team placed second in the Class A state tournament, back when there were only two classes in Minnesota. A year later the Cardinals placed third. That’s on the basketball court. As volleyball coach at B.A. Boelter has proven even more dominant, winning an astounding six state championships. There are very few coaches in Minnesota — if any outside of former Tracy-Milroy and Marshall coach Terry Culhane — who have enjoyed that type of two-sport success. He will continue on as B.A’s volleyball coach and will continue to contend for state championships.

But to really see Boelter’s greatness as a coach, go back to his Medford years. Medford won the Gopher Conference in 1981 and 1982 and that doesn’t sound like it compares to section and state titles, but after Boelter left Medford won a single Gopher Conference title. No one wins in Medford. Franz did.

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Stop what you’re doing, pick up the remote and start scanning the channels. No matter if you have 10 or 1,000 channels, chances are that right now — whether you’re reading this at 7 in the morning or 11 at night — you will stumble upon Roadhouse. There, on AMC, there it is. Patrick Swayze’s Dalton is talking about pain not hurting, never underestimating your opponent and always being nice. Roadhouse has been a cable staple for three decades and last week AMC put it on one of those loops where it played every six hours, drawing you in each time with bizarre set pieces — seriously, a monster truck? — and ridiculous characters (like, well, everyone, including Sam Elliott’s Wade, brought in by Dalton in a late-season acquisition, like the Lakers picking up Mychal Thompson in 1987 for the stretch drive, if the gregarious Mychal had ended up sprawled out on a bar with a knife in his chest instead of pouring champagne on his teammates after Game 6 of the Finals). I watched parts of it every time I stumbled upon it, and I like it for the same reasons everyone else does: How can you not like a movie about a philosophy-major bouncer — sorry, cooler — who kicks ass and cleans house?

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Amtrak trek

Posted: January 30, 2014 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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Following a three-week stay in Minnesota, where we became the first people to voluntarily vacation in the state in January for 21 days and also experienced a pair of polar vortexes — one when we arrived, another when we left — we declined the wonders of air travel for the romance of the train.

A flight takes less than three hours and our train trip took 36 but I’d gladly do it again, even though I’m certain we never will again.

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Disclaimer: These are the ramblings of an aging has-been. Yes, there are more important things to worry about. Yes, this sounds like someone screaming about people getting off his lawn. I know, I know.

On Tuesday night I braved the elements, walked two blocks and wandered into my old high school at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton and watched the boys basketball team. The locals lost a two-point game. I wish the Bulldogs had won but the result also provided the one present all former players want: Evidence that my era’s team would have mopped the floor with these youngsters. What else could aging, graying, paunch-carrying middle-aged men want?

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Another trip back home to Janesville, another trip down to the Fury catacombs. Previous excursions discovered books about how to be a man in 1886 and Alex Karras’s sexually disturbing autobiography. This time?

The People’s Home Library, published in 1916, from R.C. Barnum. The book is a library of “three practical books,” The People’s Home Medical Book, The People’s Home Recipe Book and The People’s Home Stock Book. In the compiler’s preface, Barnum wrote, “The authors have most heartily joined with the compiler in an earnest effort to make this in truth a most practical book for the People and we trust it will prove a real money-saver in the home.”

I have no idea where this book first lived or if it did indeed save people money at the start of the 20th century. But maybe it can still offer some good advice to those living in the early part of the 21st.

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It’s impossible for me to count how many hours I spent at the Janesville city park as a kid. Two hours playing a pickup baseball game. Three hours playing football. Four hours playing two-on-two basketball. Five hours alone in the summer shooting baskets. An hour alone in the winter shooting baskets. Day after day, night after night.

And all that time I probably took two trips to the park’s bathrooms. Maybe three. Part of it had to do with geography — we lived a block away from the park so why not just go home when needed? But sometimes — in the middle of one of those marathon baseball, football or basketball battles — I wouldn’t want to run home and run back. Still, I avoided them. You might dare a friend to go in them but never chance it yourself. The restrooms terrified me — if monsters, human or otherwise, didn’t lurk there, then organ-killing germs and filth did. The tiny facilities, situated just off the area used to play baseball, looked like a structure that shows up on a news report accompanied by the words, “Police say the bodies were found inside…”

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The haircut chronicles

Posted: December 11, 2013 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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It’s a dance as old as time itself, or however long it’s been since one person wielded a pair of scissors and attacked the hair of a helpless victim in a chair.

My hair starts to cover my eyes, annoying me as I push it away all day while staring at a computer screen. A day or two before my Wednesday night basketball games, I mention to Louise how difficult it is to shoot when you’re looking at the rim through brown strands of hair, no matter how easy Pistol Pete made it look. That week I play hoops but stop every five seconds to brush my hair out of my face. Later in the evening I’ll blame a substandard shooting night on the fact I could barely make out the basket, especially from the long distances I launch from. A few days later, maybe that weekend, I finally say I can’t take it anymore and I need a haircut. Louise groans and curses, then ignores me for a few hours. One time she explained how she couldn’t handle the fact she would cut my hair for the next 40 or, if the genes are generous, 50 years. I stood there dumbly, contemplating mortality and my hair. Eventually she relents, broken down by love or possibly inspired by hate, visions of a quick stab to my head with the scissors dancing through her head. So easy, so final. It’s probably the mess that keeps her from doing it. And then I sit down and she cuts my hair, ignoring my reminders to avoid slicing my ear, telling me to move my head to the side or up and down, smirking when I complain about the falling hair getting in my face. Then it’s over and we forget about the tension and the hair for another two or three months.

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High school basketball started in Minnesota, and in related news I’m still dreaming about my last high school game. Had a good one two nights ago, though that game didn’t make an appearance. Made like 10 straight 3-pointers on picture night.

In preparation of the new season, a look back at some old games and highlights, found while crawling through the depths of YouTube.

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Any investigation of the report cards residing in my parents’ basement would reveal my struggles in math classes at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton. Algebra, Geometry, Analysis — the actual title of the class didn’t matter. It it involved numbers, I had problems. Math remains a weakness. But I actually wish I was even worse. I sometimes wish I didn’t even possess a basic understanding of addition and subtraction. That would keep me from playing the numbers game that’s always going in my head.

“Magic Johnson won his first MVP 26 years ago. Twenty-six years from now you’ll be 64. 1987 feels like yesterday, 64 will feel like tomorrow.” “I remember seeing E.T. in the theater. That was 31 years ago. I’ll be 69 years old and, well, if not dead, feeble.”

Normal stuff like that. And here’s one that’s been especially relevant this year: I graduated 20 years ago. Twenty years from now I’ll be 58 and…where has the time gone and how can I slow it down?”

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The Worker

Posted: July 9, 2013 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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My mom Cees Fury started working at the E.F. Johnson company in Waseca, Minnesota, in January 1969. That same month she turned 19 years old. A month earlier, a week before Christmas, she had given birth to my sister Lisa. For the next 44 years she worked at E.F. Johnson and two other manufacturing plants, save for the one year she lived in Germany when my dad was stationed there in the army.

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