Hello Friends and Family,

Minnesota, 1971

Link to this year's index by clicking here.


The Corona-virus Pandemic has impacted us all. I have friends who have contracted the disease and are recovering, fortunately. Some folks are no longer working. Others are working under special precautions. The impact on me has been relatively minor — wearing of masks, washing of hands, and maintaining social distancing guidelines. However, it has caused me to suspend my photography safaris (or whatever you would choose to call them) resulting in me running out of current photos to share.

Coincidentally, but prior to the pandemic, I was having my old slides digitized. The real purpose was to preserve my memories while freeing up storage space in our townhouse. It is surprising how much space slide trays (holding 100+ slides per tray) will take in one's closets compared to how little space the scanned slides take up on a disk drive (yes, everything is backed up). So when I realized that I would soon run out of photos that you have not seen, the idea struck me to share some of my old slides until I can again enjoy taking photos without fear of contracting this serious illness. Note that the quality of the slides is not up to that of current digital images but they will certainly be adequate for my memories and you becoming acquainted with my past.

Who is he? I look in the mirror and the guy looking back at me looks so different than the guy in this photo — it seems that he must be someone else. But in fact, in 1971 I was a fresh graduate of Purdue University and had just begun my career in computers working for Control Data Corporation. So I guess technically, this was Life Before HP, but let's not quibble about that.

I believe the following set of photos were taken at Lake Como in Saint Paul (named after the famous Lake Como in the Italian Alps). Urbanites from the Twin Cities came here to escape the hustle and bustle of their busy city lives. People often sailed or paddled around the lake starting from this dock.

Based on the fact that I was wearing a heavy outer shirt, it must have been autumn with winter just around the corner. Oh, and I was wearing a beard in those days. The story behind the facial hair is that my alma mater (Purdue) has a long-standing tradition that returning Seniors came back to school with a beard grown during the summer break. They would shave it off after the Homecoming football game. I followed both traditions but discovered that I liked not shaving so I later grew it back.

You might also notice that in this photo, I was wearing glasses, which I was forced to adopt when I was 12 years old (the previous photos had me wearing clip-on sunglasses hiking my regular glasses). Soon after these photos were taken, I began wearing the brand new soft contact lenses from Bausch and Lomb — and continued that practice until recent times when I had cataract surgery with implanted lenses (you might recall that from LAHP).

This day was nice and quiet, perfect for walking the trails at Lake Como or just enjoying the terrific ambiance.

Lake Como is a multi-season attraction. During the winter, the lake freezes over and you can ice skate on it. Learning some winter activity is virtually mandatory in Minnesota — not by law but by the need to not go stark raving mad with cabin fever during the long winter here. I chose to learn ice skating because you could do it with minimal expense. The only downside was the little kids who grew up skating who liked to skate circles around you and say something like "Mister, don't you know how to skate?"

Only a short time later, winter struck. The first piece of winter gear that I bought was an arctic parka. It was perfect for keeping your body warm — winter footwear was next on the purchase list.

Whether you like the cold or not, it is very picturesque. I took this shot because there were footprints in the snow — my guess is from rabbits — a more experienced northerner can probably do a better job of identification. I liked the look of B&W — hope you do too.

My first apartment had a large garage where residents could park their cars to keep them out of the elements. The garage was not heated but that did not seem necessary — I don't recall ever having to get a jump-start before heading out to work in my little VW Beetle.

One detail you will learn in Minnesota is that often it is too cold to make snowballs. You actually require a bit of unfrozen moisture in your handful of snow — lacking that, the snowball just falls apart as if you were trying to form a ball out of dry sand.

There are some famous landmarks in Saint Paul that were always on my tour when friends or family come to visit. Here we see the Cathedral of Saint Paul — a National Shrine of the Apostle Paul. I don't recall ever visiting inside but I note that they do have tours available — sounds like something I would do these days with my digital camera in hand (if it were not for the Corona-virus).

And since Saint Paul is the capital of the state of Minnesota, it is home to the state Capitol Building. And this is another landmark that I have not visited, as best I recall. According to Wikipedia, it is "modeled after the larger Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. The dome is the largest unsupported marble dome in the world, as Saint Peter's is made of concrete."

But this was the destination that all our guests really wanted to visit — Wood's Chocolate Shop. They made the best handmade chocolate I ever recall eating. Each piece had the center created and formed by the loving hands of older ladies who then dipped each piece in melted chocolate followed by a unique swirl pattern — so you could tell the variety of the piece by its swirl. Wood's Chocolate also became a favorite gift for birthdays or Christmas — especially for folks who I had taken to the shop for viewing and more importantly, sampling their fine chocolate. Sadly, they are no longer in business.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com