Friday, April 20, 2018

Archie J. Miller 1917-2018

As I sit down here to write this, I am filled with mixed feelings. It has been a couple of days now and the dust is settling so here I go.

Archie J. Miller is Lisa's grandfather. He lived to be 101. A milestone in it's own right. Raised during the great depression he knew the value of money and how much hard work it was to get it. Born in the small town of Brocket ND., he grew up there and started his first business. He then moved to the Fergus Falls MN. area in the late 1950's where he built a house by the lake, and started several other businesses. Never able to sit still, always on the move.
This was the building that carried his name in Dilworth MN. It was called "Archie's Place" and then later re-named Bargains. I think he used the two tone metal siding to make it look like a circus tent. Just my opinion because of all the clowns working inside. Just a thought. You knew he was there when you would see his big Eldorado parked outside.
The store was fairly large and packed with anything and everything he could find. It had clothing, housewares, hardware, lumber, furniture, carpet and the list could go on and on.

Archie came into my life in 1988 when I met the beautiful miss Lisa Marie. I picked up the FM Guide magazine and inside it was an article about the Miller's and their success. I showed Lisa the article when we were in beauty school together and asked her if that was her. They had a family picture in it.
Lisa and I got married the next year. With his blessings no doubt.
Christmas's have never been the same.

Being in the business he was in, he would get samples from so many different companies trying to sell him their wares. He would show up at Christmas with his Cadillac stuffed full of presents. Our first Christmas is one that I will never forget. Opening of the gifts took hours and there were only the 6 of us, because of the sheer volume of gifts to open and opening them one at a time.

Lisa has worked for Archie for many years. Eventually running his clothing department.
What a task that was. Whatever amount of clothing was in the store, there were 2 to 3 times out in the warehouses. He never purchased anything in small quantities. It was usually truckload buys. When it was time to inventory everything yearly, it was all done manually. He didn't believe in computers.

I eventually worked for Archie myself. Starting in the hardware department and then moving up to being a department head of furniture and carpet. Archie would take us with him to Las Vegas every year for the giant buying show. He taught us the ins and outs of buying for his store. He said always ask for terms. "What's that?" He said "Have them write the bill out to be paid in full in 30 days and then give us a 15% discount". That was the way he worked. Always pay cash. Never finance anything. That was how he was able to compete with the big guys across the street. He was very shrewed. He would invite us out after the shows and we would always find him at the slots waiting for us. He loved the slot machines.

Archie loved western art. He loved it so much that he had a art gallery built next door so that he could share it with everyone. It was called "Archie's West Art Gallery and Gift Shop" run by his daughter Beverly.
He would have his art collection displayed and he never charged anyone admission to view it.

He was very proud of his grandkids and great grandkids.

Also his wife, Virginia.

We have seen two deaths up close and personal now in the last 7 months. Lisa's father who passed away after an accident last fall. That was 19 days in the hospital and we thought that was long. We have been watching Archie slowly going down hill for many, many years now. We would leave after our visits thinking that that was our last goodbyes. Only to come home again and there he was stubborn and determined to carry on. I never thought he would make it to be 100, but he did. Then I thought he won't make it till Christmas, but he did. Then to 101. 

The last few months were the hardest. We saw him go from walking to the wheelchair. From the wheelchair to being bedridden. Eventually solid food was out of the question and it quickly started to go downhill then. What helped him live for so long was the wonderful care he was receiving at home from a couple of angels named Elizabeth and Beverly. They gave up so much of their lives to him and it takes such a special person to do that.
They were there till the very end. Archie passed away April 16th, 2018, at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Basement Treasure Hunting

It's April 15th and we are hunkered down in our super secret undisclosed location. We awoke to more snow blanketing the ground again. This has been the winter that doesn't want to end.
More of that F***ing snow.
That is this mornings picture and the next one is just from yesterday. We had some deer go through the yard.
What a difference a day makes.

Legend has it that there is a certain pool table hidden in the basement at our super secret location. According to the legend it was put down there over 60 years ago and Lisa's dad and uncle were going to play a game of pool on it. Well Archie heard the clatter of pool balls and stormed down there and quickly put an end to that tom foolery. So it was covered up, never to be used again. Over time it was buried under things like in all basements and forgotten.

So armed with that knowledge, I wanted to see if the legends were true. 

I yelled to Lisa, "Get my Indiana Jones hat and grab the whip out of the bedroom. I am going on a quest!" So , once properly attired and full of vim and vigor, I set out to accomplish what they said couldn't be done. I first had to discover the secret location of the doorway to the underworld.
Super secret portal to the underworld.
After I breached the secret portal I descended into the sixties. It was totally groovy.
After searching for hours, leaving no stone unturned, I found it. The sacred virgin alter to entertainment. At that moment I think I cried a little.
It was covered by many layers of protective coverings.
I enlisted the help of the local residents of the basement. Cats. They promised to help me if I would just listen to their broadway musical of whimsical frivolity. It sucked.
Layer upon layer was removed.
Until finally we found what we were looking for.

The wood on the top that has been covered is a dark mahogany color, while the legs that have been exposed is a light faded color. So what do you do with a virgin pool table that has never been used? You use it. And that is what Moose and I did. He has his own way of playing.
The balls are so old that they have turned yellow. I always wondered what happened to them if you didn't use them. I was looking for a white cue ball and was wondering why there were two yellow balls.
The 12 and 7 ball is from a different set.

It makes me wonder why someone would buy that and never use or enjoy it. But rather cover it up and just let it sit. Things that make you go "Hmmmm". After a couple of games, I covered it up for the next generation to find.

I will have to see what else we find in "The Basement of many wonders"

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Mission Accomplished

We moved back into our fifth wheel in late February to hit the road again and to work the Strawberry Festival. With that finished we had planned a slow journey north. We wanted to be in our super secret location up north for the arrival of our first grandbaby due April 4th.

Now for those people that don't know much about Minnesota, it can still be very cold up there in April and it is not uncommon to have an April blizzard or two. So we watched and watched the temps up north. Letting that dictate how far north we where to travel and to kind of give us a date to arrive. I think Lisa was looking at the weather hourly. We went from Florida to Mississippi, to Missouri and then to Illinois.

Another challenge we faced was to travel from the south to the north and dodge potentially hazardous weather along the way. We raced to the Quad Cities to get off of the road because a snow event was on its way. We got set up just before it started to snow. 8 inches of wet heavy snow came down that night and after that the temps dropped.
Rock Island, Ill.
We had some business to take care of in the Quad Cities. With that done we kept watching the temps up north still. At first they were looking mangeable but now they were slowly getting colder. What ever happened to global warming Al Gore? Dumbass. Looking at the calendar, we still had time for the temps to warm, we hoped. Lisa found a state park closer to Minnesota that was open year round. So we hitched up and went farther north. This time to beat a wind event that was crossing the mid section. When we got to Clear Lake Iowa the sun was out and melting the snow that they had received also.

For a campground that is open year round, you would think that they would plow the roads. No. We got stuck looking for a site with not as much snow on it. Even in 4 wheel drive I could not get any traction. So we backed down the road and found some spots at the very beginning. I was going to back into a spot and Lisa is yelling, "STOP, STOP!" I got off of the site just a little because they were very narrow and quickly started sinking.
Oops. My bad.
That rut was about 6-8 inches deep. So instead of backing into that site , we pulled forward into the site in front of it and called it a day. Again looking at the temps up north, they just started to plummet, so we decided to get antifreeze and winterize on Sunday the day we were to leave.
Clear Lake State Park
The weather people got it correct. The winds came. 35mph sustained wind with 45-50mph wind gusts. No way where we going to drive in that. Lisa made my Easter ham early on Saturday and then we watched the temps drop here. We had already planned to winterize in the morning before we left, but mother nature had different plans for us. Around 2 in the morning, Lisa used the bathroom and the water pump kept running. We are frozen, some were between the tank and the pump. Since our pump was still working we decided to hurry and winterize now at 2AM. Dorks on Parade. We pumped our water lines with antifreeze, drained the fresh water tank and the water heater and then went back to bed. One good thing though, with the lower temps, the ground froze and we didn't sink in. We made it to the Iowa welcome center were they have a dump station and dumped before our tanks froze. If we didn't we would have the world's largest poopcicle. 

Still watching the weather, we had just one day to squeeze in between two weather systems.
2 feet of snow still on the ground at our super secret location.
We got to our final destination and parked out front. Jumped into Lisa's mom's car and drove to Fargo for this.
Grandbaby One
What a sweet little gift he is. It was worth all of the trouble we went through and we would do it again if we had to.

The temps are too cold to live in our camper so we have moved out again and into Lisa's mom's basement. Thanks Bev for the room and board. If anyone tells us how pretty the snow looks (Steve and Joan) prepare for a snowball in the face.

Until we thaw out again.