Granite Falls Advocate Tribune
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  • We don’t want to talk about the weather but it is really the first thing on everyone’s mind these days. It’s time for spring to get here and those few warm days give us just enough taste of some nice weather that it seems to drives us all a little crazy. Each week Lee Ann Smith peruses our historic newsp...
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  • We don’t want to talk about the weather but it is really the first thing on everyone’s mind these days. It’s time for spring to get here and those few warm days give us just enough taste of some nice weather that it seems to drives us all a little crazy.
    Each week Lee Ann Smith peruses our historic newspaper volumes for news items to include in the “Remember When” column. Last week she found a doosey: 18 inches of snow fell in Granite 90 years ago on April 2, 1924. That issue of the Tribune mentioned that there were six and eight foot snow drifts and proclaimed that it was the “heaviest snow since 1917.
    That wasn’t much consolation when we went from 68 degrees on Monday afternoon to 28 degrees Monday night with a howling wind that pelted us with sleet and snow. Even if it was worse back in 1924, it didn’t make me feel any warmer or more fortunate. We’ve waited too long for spring to get here.
    I know I shouldn’t complain. We actually took a short break from the dreary March weather last week and spent a few days kicking around in Fort Myers, Florida, watching spring training baseball and soaking up some warmth and sunshine. Just hearing the crack of a baseball bat and seeing green grass makes you feel a whole lot better. Seeing the Twins play while wearing shorts and getting sunburned knees was a pleasure.
    The Twins play their spring training games in Hammond Stadium in the east end of Fort Myers. We were there two years ago for a game and I thought it was a great place to watch baseball. Apparently the Twins and the Lee County board of commissioners, who manage the place, thought otherwise and are now halfway through a $42 million renovation that will be finished up by next spring. They have made the place more fan-friendly and it seems like a model operation to me. It is a friendly place surrounded by other baseball fields where the Twins minor league players are all spending time chasing their dream of playing in the major leagues and taking careful and repetitive instructions from old baseball gurus.
    A bit further down the road, near the Fort Myers Airport, the Boston Red Sox and their spring training camp are located at the futuristic and shiny Jet-Blue Park. Being close together, the Twins and the Red Sox play each other a number of times in the spring, so we drove over to the Red Sox camp and were able to pick up a couple of standing room tickets. These were for the deck high above left field, on top of a re-created “Green Monster” wall that is the same size as their huge left field wall at Fenway Park in Boston. We were able to hang around with a few Twins fans up there and enjoy the game. One of the grandfatherly ushers back at the Twins ballpark told me that he had worked for both ball clubs during spring training and the Twins were by far and away the better organization to work for and that the Twins fans were a much nicer bunch, too. He was from Connecticut and had been a Red Sox fan most of his life but really thought highly of the midwestern folks.
    Page 2 of 3 - He also shared with me that the 70 degree temperature that day was probably their one day of winter. “Tomorrow,” he said, “it will be spring again.” He was right. In fact, it felt like summer, even when it did rain a bit.
    Those Florida license plates that proudly proclaim “Endless Summer” are accurate. Its green there year-round and the Gulf of Mexico water looks wonderful. Its not heard to figure why Lee County where Fort Myers and Cape Coral are located is one of the ten fastest growing counties in the country.
    I read in the Fort Myers News-Press that 241 building permits for new houses were issued in Lee County last month. Having that many new houses built in Yellow Medicine or Chippewa County in a year would be a considered a boom.
    There are lots of Minnesotans who spend the winter in that part of southwestern Florida. There’s also a lot of folks who go there for a winter vacation and they aren’t hard to spot, wearing Twins shirts and caps and looking either very pale or freshly sunburned.
    Thomas Edison built a winter estate in Fort Myers when it was a very small town and proclaimed that someday millions of people would know about the rather out-of-the-way place the he described as paradise. He convinced his friend Henry Ford to spend winters there and they built side by side winter homes just south of downtown along the Caloosahatchee River which flows a short distance downstream into the Gulf of Mexico.
    Edison loved the palm trees there and had thousands more of them imported from Cuba and planted all over Fort Myers. The town is thick with those royal palms and they look great. He also experimented with a new possible source for rubber from ficus trees. The trees are wide and odd shaped with long shoots that reach from their spreading branches down to the ground where they, in turn, take root among the roots of the main tree trunk. Ford, of course, was more than a little interested in a new source of rubber for tires. The trees weren’t ideal for that so the experiment was dropped but the exotic looking trees remain.
    When we got back to Minnesota on Friday evening, it was jacket weather but not too bad and the weekend even felt a bit balmy. That all changed Monday night and we were shoveling snow on Tuesday morning - a hard pill to swallow. It was still March in Minnesota.
    Now that it’s April, hopefully there won’t be much more snow. The historical note about the 1924 snowstorm may not be all that unusual.
    In 1995, on April 28 we had 12 inches of snow, but it was all melted by May 1.
    Page 3 of 3 - Maybe spring will be here before long. Then we can watch some more baseball.
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