Thoughts of Thanksgiving Conjure Up Many Memories

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

Like a giant tree in the Henderson forest, a well-known citizen left family and friends on November 15th. Not with a noisy crash did the tall stately figure come to earth from which he sprang, but rather softly, gracefully without fanfare, just as he had lived. Stan Wigand, age 95, spent over 84 years as a ‘giving tree,’ touching the lives and hearts of hundreds of people along the way. At his funeral he was extolled for his valuable contributions to family, city, church and country. A skilled carpenter for countless years, Stan’s humbleness, honesty and hard work were among his star virtues. Those who spoke of him mentioned the word “gentle” as one of his attributes, gentle toward children, adults and animals. There was but one time we can recall that gentleness turning to ire. Stan and his sister, Carmen, were meticulous in their care for home and yard. However, once upon a summer, a scourge of a mole attacked their well-manicured lawn. Stan tried to disrupt the nocturnal activities using humane methods of control, but the mammal defied him, the furry creature leaving a trail of upturned black sod behind, up, down, under, encircling the lawn many times.

After a lengthy encounter by Stan with Sir Mole, we received a phone call. “I have a creature for your specimen collection,” we believe Stan said. Upon visiting the scene, we spotted a shovel leaning against a shed, a deceased charcoal colored creature lay nearby. Today, that preserved animal continues to travel to classrooms around the area, educating children of many sizes who have never observed said little critter with earth-moving paddles for front paws and sharp teeth fashioned for gobbling up worms and other earth-bound niceties which lay just beneath the surface of lawns. Stan, in countless ways you’ve been a model for us to live by. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Carmen, Stan’s sister, longtime companion, friend and caretaker.

Those who travel Highway #19 by auto betwixt Henderson and Belle Plaine will note a stately set of silhouettes along a stand of cedar trees about two miles north from the #169 entry on the east side of the highway. One wonders how many of the zillions of passersby’s near the Vern Bienfang brick home will notice the picturesque display of Pilgrims and Native Americans. This is Vern’s way of reminding us that Thanksgiving began as a harvest festival in October 1621. An attendee of that three-day long feast, Edward Winslow, (Wikipedia) wrote that 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims attended that festival. The figures remind us that all of usn’s had immigrant roots upon a new land once upon a time, and opens that topic for discussion with our youngsters. George Washington commemorated the occasion as a federal holiday in 1789, thus the celebration has been around for some time. Thanks, Vern, for the vivid reminder of our historical backgrounds. With today’s proliferation of technology, wouldn’t this be a great time to ‘recover’ and discuss the many stories of that first Thanksgiving? Frances and company that readers pause to ponder upon the many facets of the natural world. Happy Day!