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Column: Raindrops keep fallin’ on all my days and doings

Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared Jan. 7, 2006.

WORTHINGTON — The Daily Globe had a dandy year-end review last week. I can say this because (you know) I had nothing of any kind to do with it. I’m just a reader, along with you. The Minneapolis paper also did some fine year-end reporting.

Year-end stories interest me — oh, because I forget some of what happened only months before. I also enjoy reliving some of what came to be through 12 months gone by. Besides this, I don’t often see news events, I don’t get to important events and milestone events. It is a service having my newspaper sum them up for me.

In my world — well, in my world there are not many big things. I was thinking back on 2005. I am going to tell people, “That was the year it rained every day.”

You’re going to say, “Oh, pay no attention to him. He doesn’t know what he is talking about.”

But now, let me tell you: One of the huge events for me came last May. Union Pacific brought a passenger train to town. They gave us — I think about 500 of us — free rides to the Iowa border and back. I was there with Elmer Probst. Ralph Cooper and his family were just ahead of us. It rained.

Oh, if you remember, it rained buckets. We rolled along with sheets of rain splatting on the windows of our rail car. We watched the trucks and cars on Highway 60, their windshield wipers flapping at high speed and their tires rolling out sprays.

Everything looked green and everything was wet.

I want to say, that was as fine a train ride as I ever had, brief and wet though it was. Union Pacific has upgraded its tracks. Trains don’t go clickedty-clack, clickedty-clack anymore. Rail cars don’t sway side to side. There are occasional noises, but you have a sensation of gliding. A ride is smoother than it is in most cars. If there were trains running between Omaha and the Twin Cities only a couple of days each week, I am confident those trains would be crowded.

Well, that was May. I was riding a train in the rain.

It was a Saturday morning in the summer when Schwalbach Ace Hardware had its grand opening on Oxford Street. Again, several hundred of us showed up. And it was raining. Maybe raining pitchforks, maybe raining cats and dogs.

Former Mayor Bob Demuth and Betty were there. We were together just inside the front doors, wiping rain from the lenses of our glasses. Schwalbach’s lights were bright and if you looked outside, it appeared to be night. There were flashes of lightning every now and again, and long rumbles of thunder.

I think we were all agreed the trip was worth it. We had never seen a hardware store at Worthington so big and bright, with an inventory so varied. Maybe it was a kind of reward for coming out in the rain: Schwalbach gave each of us a quality flashlight, which I judged was the most generous grand opening gift I ever saw. I’m not talking about grand opening prizes, I’m talking about gifts passed out to everyone.

Well, then, it was September. You remember that. We all were there. Turkey Day. It was raining. Oh, it was raining hard. My gang went downtown. There was a sudden gust from the lake which pushed along Fourth Avenue to the corner of 10th Street, to the Cows’ Outside. We were thinking tsunami by that time. That gust was like a mini-tsunami.

For Turkey Day, Top Asian Foods was having its first day in its new quarters, the old Ace Hardware quarters. We ran in the rain along the 10th Street sidewalk and pressed inside Top Asian Foods.

Some people guess “Top Asian” means, “Caucasians Won’t Like This.” Wrong. I got some rice spaghetti, which was very good — not really different from any spaghetti. I also got some coffee with chicory. That’s a New Orleans specialty. It has punch but it tastes very good, especially on a chilly, wet day.

It was not truly an exciting year, I suppose.

I liked it. I enjoyed it.

But let me tell you: 2005 was the year it rained every day.