All in the family: Daughter edits collection of Lew Hudson's writingsBAXTER — When Lew Hudson opened a package from his daughter Becky last Christmas, he unwrapped a piece of himself — a collection of his own writings. “It really surprised me,” said Lew, who now lives in Baxter with wife Irma. “I didn’t know she was doing that. She had one for each of her siblings, too. It was a very pleasant surprise.”
By: Beth Rickers, Worthington Daily Globe
BAXTER — When Lew Hudson opened a package from his daughter Becky last Christmas, he unwrapped a piece of himself — a collection of his own writings.
“It really surprised me,” said Lew, who now lives in Baxter with wife Irma. “I didn’t know she was doing that. She had one for each of her siblings, too. It was a very pleasant surprise.”
Lew, a longtime print journalist — first at the Daily Globe and later at the Brainerd Dispatch — had ventured into column writing at both venues, and Becky compiled some of her favorites into a tome she titled “Dispatches From Our Corner of the Globe.” She was inspired to do so after an author visit to the Slayton Public Library, where she is employed as a librarian.
“Warren Swier from Edgerton had published a book and was reading from it. Everybody was so excited to hear those stories, all related to farm and family, and I thought about so many good stories Dad had written through the years,” Becky explained. “I have a box full of photocopies of articles that my mom would provide us with, and I started digging through those. I realized I could pick out my favorites and put them together as a gift to my family at Christmas time.”
Becky’s efforts were so well received by her family and close friends that they decided to make the book more widely available through outlets in both the Brainerd area and Worthington.
Before he became a newspaperman, Lew was employed by the local radio station. His deep voice made him a natural for the medium, but he wanted to do more in-depth reporting, so when he was offered a job at the Daily Globe in 1961, he jumped at the chance.
“It seemed like everything I wrote and broadcast as a radio newsman, nobody ever believed it until they saw it in the paper anyway. I think that was human nature,” Lew reflected.
During Lew’s tenure at the Globe, he did a wide array of regional reporting, covering tragedies, trials, triumphs and turkeys. He proudly takes credit as being one of the instigators of the Great Gobbler Gallop, the annual turkey race against rival Cuero, Texas, to decide which community can claim to be Turkey Capital of the World.
“That actually did start when somebody sent me a picture and story about Turkeyfest down in Cuero,” Lew explained. “There were so many recollections of them doing the same things we were doing for Turkey Day, so I wrote a story about it — two crazy little towns that celebrate turkeys. Then I got a call from a guy who worked for (turkey hatchery owner) E.O. Olson: ‘There’s something I gotta tell ya. Turkey Day in Worthington grew out of a visit Mr. Olson made to Cuero on vacation. He brought back the idea for Turkey Day.’”
The story eventually evolved into a challenge to a turkey race between the two communities, and it’s continued ever since. Lew was on Worthington’s first Turkey Race Team and made many trips — and friends along the way — to Cuero. A framed photo of the race that was featured on the cover of the Dallas Morning News still hangs on the wall of his home office.
While Lew enjoyed reporting on regional events, he also discovered a talent for sharing more personal stories.
“… an exciting door was opened for me — column writing,” Lew explained in the introduction to a collection of selected columns from his days at the Brainerd paper. “It came from Paul Gruchow, at that time managing editor of the Daily Globe. He said he and Publisher Jim Vance thought it would be a worthy addition to the paper. They were right. It was not only a popular feature with readers, but a refreshing new challenge for me. Before it ended, I wrote about 1,500 of them.”
Lew’s original column, “Our Corner of the Globe,” ran three times a week. He also penned a sports column, “Out and Around.”
“Those Daily Globe columns caught the eye of Roy Miller, editor of the Brainerd Dispatch, and when the time came to leave Worthington, they were the key that opened the door to my assignment as senior editor of the Brainerd Dispatch,” wrote Lew. “During the last six years of my working life, the Brainerd column became an overwhelming reader favorite.”
In his columns, Lew wrote about life at home with “Mrs. H,” anecdotes about his children, politics, his battle with the squirrels who frequented his bird feeder, music, memories of his childhood and whatever else came to mind on any given day.
“The most frequently asked question is this: ‘How long does it take to write a column?’” shared Lew. “The answer is about 30 minutes for the first draft and an average of six to seven hours of polishing.”
When he retired from the Brainerd Dispatch, Lew and Irma stayed put in nearby Baxter. Their children — LuAnn, Cindy, Becky and Fred — are scattered around the state, but not too far away for visits.
“We’re busy as all get out,” said Lew, adding that he’s not always sure exactly what does fill the hours in a day.
He continues to do a little writing, although not for a newspaper.
“I have been, for many years, the editor and publisher of a church bulletin,” he noted. “It’s an eight-page affair that comes out every month, and I have a little column in there.”
“We sing in the church choir,” said Irma. “Most of them are older people like us, we have a terrific pianist who is our director, and he can make anything sound good. And when the ice goes out on the lake, which will be happening pretty quick, we like to fish.”
“We’re in the middle of the best fishing location in Minnesota, you know,” inserted Lew. “We sang in the choir at Westminster Presbyterian in Worthington, too. It’s something we thoroughly enjoy.”
And with the publishing of “Dispatches From Our Corner of the Globe,” Lew has to fit in a few book signing events into the schedule; there was one a couple of weeks ago in Brainerd, and plans are in the works for a visit to Worthington.
Becky made the trip north for the first book signing and is honored to have “compiled and edited by Rebecca Hudson” on the title page. Putting it together, she said, was “absolutely a labor of love.” She worked with an online book publisher to get the project accomplished.
“It’s rather doable,” she said about the process. “Being a librarian, I have tons of books at my fingertips, so I tried to take the best of everything I could get my hands on.”
In addition to her librarian duties, Becky also writes for the Murray County News in Slayton and had previously compiled “At the Lake,” a memoir of family recipes and reunions. But this project had a completely different scope, and she wanted to get it ready to present to her family at Christmas.
“I spent many hours typing on my computer until 2 in the morning, getting everything entered in,” she said. “The articles were already written, but the other parts — rewriting, reformatting — were a learning experience. I had a lot of the material already, just didn’t have the Globe columns. They were a little different than the Brainerd ones. Back then, he was just getting started in column writing, and everybody had a column one or two days a week. He didn’t do a full-length column on one subject. So I spent a few hours down in the basement of the Globe, looking those up.”
It was easy to get engrossed in reading her dad’s material, Becky said, although she remembered times in her younger years when she cringed whenever he wrote about their family.
“As a child of a journalist, you just want to be anonymous in junior high,” she said. “But the one that he wrote after (his daughters’) weddings, that still tears at my heart. It really shows his emotion, not knowing what to say.
“He had a way of really expressing his thoughts on paper and really bringing it close to your heart.”
“Dispatches From Our Corner of the Globe” is available at the Cows’ Outside in Worthington.
Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327