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Column: Advertisement - 'Travel from Hanoi to Miloma today'

WORTHINGTON — No things irritate me more day by day than television commercials. “That’s stupid,” I think again and again and again as I see one TV ad after another. That’s stupid. Annoying. Not funny, but intended to be funny.

I don’t know even what some of the commercials are selling or what they are all about — I won’t name names because I don’t want advertisers to know they are laying out a ton of money for nothing. This tickles me.

Well —

One current TV commercial has my attention. This time I will give a commendation.

Have you seen Hanoi? Yes. Hanoi. Capital city of Vietnam. Featured on a TV commercial daily. A grey-haired American guy is walking along an Asian street taking pictures of pretty Vietnamese girls. When first I saw it I thought, “I can’t believe this.” Hanoi.

You must wonder why no one did this before. How come Madrid never tried a U.S. TV commercial, or Vienna or Jerusalem or Dublin? You admire that the Hanoi commercial is done well — no hype, no hoopla, no long message, no one saying something stupid or stuffing their mouths with a Vietnam-ese big ’n hot burger. Just an inviting look at a Hanoi street scene.

Television is not what I focus on. You should not trust me to be fair if I write about television commercials. But I think the Visit Hanoi commercial must be creating good feelings in the American audiences that see it.

Hanoi is a long way from southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa, which are a usual focus of this column. I think you can’t get to Hanoi from here — you have to go someplace else first.

So — communities in the local area. What has been going on around here?

You may have noticed driving along Minnesota 60 that we have a new name on area maps. Cargill Miloma. For at least 100 years when we drove north out of Brewster, south out of Heron Lake, there was Miloma. Granted, Miloma was never a metropolis, but it was there and it was real. Miloma was where trains stopped. Miloma Station. One old (1914) map labels it Miloma Station & Post Office.

In the beginning, when the railroads were laying out their routes, there was an important reason to guess a good-size town might emerge on the Miloma site. This was a rare place where two railroads crossed, the Milwaukee and the Omaha. That where they got the name. Mil-Oma. Between them, the railroads built one of the region’s best depots at that intersection.

For years we all drove past the trackside Miloma elevators whenever we rolled along Minnesota 60. A joke was that the little white house across the highway was the town. Then (two years ago? three years ago?) the elevators were razed. Not the concrete Cargill elevators; those are standing tall and thriving. Hence the new name: Cargill Miloma. (See Facebook.)

This is the noteworthy thing lately: the Jackson County Historical Society and two Jackson County partners have erected a notably attractive, instructive sign that reports here was the site of Miloma. A compelling close-up map illustrates the “X” formed by the two railroads. Between the bars of the “X” is a brief Miloma history. The sign is about as original and well-done as Hanoi.

I remember one afternoon in the Daily Globe newsroom a long time ago. Victor Fleece, who was one of the best-known farmers in the region, had bought the Miloma depot to raze for the lumber. It was quality lumber.

Vic held out his hand and said, “Look at this…” He was holding a spent bullet. “This was in the wood near the front door frame. It was up — oh — maybe five-and-a-half feet. We pried it out.”

“What do you make of it?” I asked.

“Well, of course we can’t know,” Vic said. “We will never know. But this might be a bullet fired by Sheriff Terry McCall when he was killed by a bandit there on the depot platform. The sheriff got shot, but it was always said he got off one shot of his own before he fell.

“We might have something historic here but we can never know.”

Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.