Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
(Reprinted from the Thursday, Dec. 23, 1976, issue of the Tri-County News.) Having recently been involved in a Marriage Encounter weekend, I am very much aware of the power that is possible to be exerted by a loving couple. Many times, the world demands that two exist as "married singles" who, although the vows have bee spoken, live very separate lives and just dwell under the same roof. We seek our identity as a single, rather than a couple. We sometimes look beyond the union for our satisfactions, comfort, strength and respect. "When somebody used to say to me, 'You're Mike's mom,' I used to become very upset and want to be recognized for myself," says Ann Thiel. "But, then I learned that you really are nobody unless somebody loves you (like the song), and when I accepted that, and the gratitude of that love, there was no longer any identity crisis." On the other hand, Bryce philosophizes, "We let each other be each other." If Ann talks too much, Bryce smiles. When Bryce decided to return to college at 50, he was never met by any opposition from his wife; rather, she took on a very unrewarding and tiring job to help the family finances. Actually, I considered interviewing just one of the Thiels, but when she talked about him, and he about her, I realized that I had come across a two-man team whose lives are so intertwined that one could not be exposed without the complement of the other. Ann Michaelson was born of Danish parents in Iowa. When she was forced to terminate her education after the eighth grade because of her mother's ill health and the family's poverty, Ann realized that "education does not begin or end in the classroom." She remembers the years of Depression when she and her sister helped their father in his blacksmith's business. The girls did the farming for three years and Ann found that pvoerty teaches, too. Bryce's heritage was a colorful mixture of German, Scotch and English (and possibly more). His father was a many-faceted individual who had a finger in every pot in town. One of his enterprises - a movie house - was a favorite spot for Bryce, who played the player piano for the silent movies. Being able to choose the numbers, Bryce found that if he played "Nearer My God to Thee" during the closing scenes, it would bring the audience to tears. (Although he does remember some of the crowd reading the title of the movie and weeping.) When the action became more dramatic, it was accompanied by the piano player, whom like the other viewers, was caught up in the drama. When he wasn't pumping the player piano, Bryce might have been in the family cafe, popcorn stand or meat market. Sometimes his father would buy a carload of fruit, which Bryce would carry in and out of the basement as they sold some. For a short time, Bryce attended the University of Iowa, where he was going to be a journalist or baseball player. His education, like Ann's, was cut short by the Depression. Bryce married Ann in 1938, and they bought a cafe in Ames, Iowa. For six years, the Thiels worked 14-hour days for six days a week. Meanwhile, Brian, Michael and Meredith were added to the family, who enjoyed the involvement in a university town, but felt that it was too hectic a business. So, without further ado, the Thiels moved to Minnesota and started farming. They bought the present Caird farm in 1952 and began milking cows and "putting sheep in the pen." Bryce went to work at North Star Granite in St. Cloud and labeled himself a 'sundown farmer." But, the rest of the family was able to fill in, and they managed to survive. When Brian and Michael finished high school, they went on to Bible college and master's and doctorate degrees. However, when Meredith decided against further education, she provided the means for Bryce to return to school and complete his education. There are too few of us who decide at 50 that it is not too late to continue to strive toward our goals. Bryce admits that he had to swallow some pride in order to sit in a college classroom again and he was somewhat apprehensive about whether he would still be able to study and graduate. After three years, he received a B.S. in secondary education. Meanwhile, Ann was employed at 3M in Hutchinson and for three years commuted 55 miles to work on a split shift. Many spouses often make sacrifices for the other, but if it is not made in love, the marriage may suffer greatly as a result. In 1959, as a result of the drought, the Thiels sold their cows and just kept some sheep. The Thiels moved to Brooten, where Bryce taught for 11 years. At the end of that period, they were asked if they would be willing to sell the house they had built and lived in, and having been indecisive about whether or not to return to Kimball, they felt that this offer was part of God's plan for them. Since their return to Kimball, Ann and Bryce have been buy building another house. I say, Ann and Bryce because they are both building the house together. While Ann shingles, Bryce puts in the plumbing. As we looked around the house, we talked about values and life and motiviations. The Thiels have lived their lives with faith in God and according to "what we conclude is best ... which is just our way of looking at things and not necessarily any one else's." Because both individuals grew out of homes in which richness abounded in love, rather than material things, they have both maintained the valus which this type of wealth inspires. They have taught their children that integrity is imporant, that they must live up to their values, and that they should strive to be the best they can be with whatever they have been given. I am impressed with the talents that have been given to the Thiels and with which they each have put to good use. I am impressed that Bryce has farmed, been in business, taught school and built houses. I am impressed that Ann has raised three wonderful children, upholstered much furniture, sewn all their clothing and a great deal for others, worked in various jobs and built a house. But more than all those tangible results of their talents, I am moved by their love for each other, their family, and their lives together. At this Christmas time, we all center in on love ... it is the theme of cards, of carols, of gifts, of sermons, of the birth of Christ. We each know how it feels to be loved. Do we all know how it feels to love in return? I had not planned ahead of time to use the Thiels' life and marriage for the Christmas edition of the paper, but somehow it seems the most appropriate expression of this special Christmas love. ********** This is just the beginning of another "Once-in-a-Lifetime-Year", so keep a close watch on those "History Matters" columns and special events as 2008 unfolds our eighth year. New or renewed friendships through membership, 2008 meetings begin in late February (exact date to be announced), Kimball area Community and Business Expo late March (watch for announcements in this newspaper), April and June meetings including speaker/program, with May, June and August summer events we sponsor. You won't want to miss these and other special occasions/celebrations during the next 12 months. ********** Good things to look forward to: New or renewed friendships through membership, 2008 meetings begin in late February (exact date to be announced), Kimball area Community and Business Expo late March (watch for announcements in this newspaper), April and June meetings (all regular meetings include a program or special speaker), with May, June and August summer events we sponsor. A 2008 landmark event will be the introduction of Kimball's history city hall's 100th birthday and the completion of its phase three (exterior) restoration. You won't want to miss these and other special occasions and celebrations expected in the next 12 months. We look forward to meeting you there. Besides all the above, we offer year 'round visits to Kimball's roots through keepsake cookbooks at Knaus Sausage House, souvenir gifts at the State Bank of Kimball and these history columns. ********** Birthdays to remember - In addition to Kimball's historic city hall's 100th birthday celebration this year (entering phase three restoration), in May, Minnesota reaches its 150th anniversary as the 32nd state in the Union. A Minnesota Sesquicentennial stamp of the Mississippi River was unveiled in October. It will go on sale nationally in May. The observance has already begun as an exhibit opened, and Minnesotans launch a year-long statewide commemoration with events and activities that promise to reach all corners of the state. There's mucvh more to come. For an overview of what's in store, go to . Happy Birthday Minnesota. ********** Thank you for your ongoing support. It's membership time, so we encourage you to renew or join us in continuing to tell and preserve the rich Kimball area story. Participation through membership is a important opportunity to strengthen Kimball and the Kimball Area Historical Society. Our mission is to foster among people an awarness of Kimball area and Minnesota hisory so that al people may draw strength and perspective from the past, and find purpose for the future by bringing history to life. Your continued commitment to our mission is priceless and appreciated. An application for membership is included this week for your convenience in renewing or beginning membership. For more information, tax exempt donations, or a story for this column, you're invited to contact The Kimball Area Historical Society, Box 100, Kimball, Minn. 55353. Phone (320) 398-5743, (320) 398-5250 or (800) 252-2521, if out of the area. ********** "A turning point in history."