Remembering The Old Man

I have thought about my father, John Somerville Ruenitz, frequently as the the Covid-19 vaccines have been deployed over the last six months. He did not have a smallpox vaccination scar on his shoulder. He survived smallpox during basic training in the navy. It was the milder type, and his entire unit was quarantined for a month. The only places that I ever noticed the scars were around the knuckle joints of his hands.

My father would be 111 this month. He liked to boast his birthday on the 25th was the farthest day from Christmas. No chance of aunties giving him a gift for both birthday and the holiday. After graduating from William Mitchell Law School, he was a lawyer for over 40 years in Windom, Minnesota. For a while, his law office had the distinction of having the first phone number, #1. And I could go on and on with the stories and how they affected me throughout my life.

Here are a few facts. He was born in Los Angeles, but grew up in Springfield, Minnesota. Like everyone in my family born in Los Angeles, he was left handed. Those born in Windom were right handed. After high school, he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin Experimental College in Madison. The banner shows him with fellow members of the Theta Xi fraternity (He’s third from the right in the front row). Coincidentally, one of his classmates at the University was a member of the United Nations Smallpox Eradication Program in the 1960s.

Proud of the Blue and Gold (not just a visa card)

OK you Windom Grads, gather ’round. I need to tell the history of a famous son. The one who spread Windom High School colors of Blue and Gold worldwide.

Blue and Gold Banner (omitted by wordpress)

I grew up in Windom, Minnesota. Yes, I am proud that Windom produced Maria Schneider (composer), Randy Weeks (folk singer), and Johnny Olson (TV announcer). A less familiar name is Clark Beise. He was born in Windom, Minnesota in 1898, the son of a doctor.

He was a banker, not so well known today as the others. From 1954 to 1963, however, Clark was the president of Bank of America. Under his guidance, Bank of America implemented the first large scale computer banking applications and the first general use credit card, BankAmericard. From the beginning, this card had blue and gold stripes. This blue and gold logo was carried over when it became the Visa Card. Here are some early logos.



Wikipedia states, the stripes were “originally chosen to represent the blue sky and golden-colored hills of California.” I believe it goes farther back than that. At Windom High School, I cheered for the Eagles and was proud of our Blue and Gold school colors. I assume, Clark Beise was just as proud when the Windom Eagle Blue and Gold was chosen for the BankAmericard.

Here are some other links that might be of interest.

New York Times, retrieved 18 Sep 2015

Retrieved from LA Times on 18 Sep 2015

Retrieved from Bank of America Website on 18 Sep 2015

Retrieved from Max Preps on 18 Sep 2015,mn%29/home.htm

Finally, I wish to acknowledge my brother, Peter Ruenitz, who gave me this idea for this post.

Our Three Month Visit to North America

I originally titled this as our visit to the United States, only later realizing that we went up to Canada so “North America” is more appropriate.  Wish we could have co-ordinated a run down to Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico to catch up with George and Gloria making it a full North American adventure.

We spent an interesting three months, June through August, hanging around Seattle, Washington, meeting up with Daughter between University Semesters, visiting my home town, and relaxing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Summarizing a trip this long comes down to decisions on what to include, what was unique, what was inspiring.  Looking through our photos poses the dilemma of which ones are favorites.  I love them all for the stories they reflect rather than their artistic merit.

Here are some of the places we were. Although we mainly visited new places, one of the themes was eat and drink our favorites.  As some of the photos show, coffee and mate were big on my list.

Tukwila, Washington – We started in Tukwila, a small city just a walk north of SeaTac airport.  There are a surprising number of parks including a botanical garden, Duwamish river walk, and community center sports parks.

Discovering Tukwila's parks through long walks
Discovering Tukwila’s parks through long walks

Portland, Oregon– This post documents our visit to Portland with a couple of stops in Washington.

Windom and Burnsville, Minnesota – We stopped in Minnesota staying in Burnsville, a suburb south of the Minnesota River. This was convenient to check up with friends and colleagues in Minneapolis and St. Paul that we had not seen for over a year.  While Wife and I visited my home town of Windom, our daughter camped out in the last remaining Big Woods area south of Northfield, Minnesota.

Coffee was a big part of this trip.
Coffee was a big part of this trip. Here at the River City Eatery ( in Windom

Daughter camping with friend in the Big Woods
Daughter camping with friend in the Big Woods

Vancouver, British Columbia – We spent a week in the Mt Pleasant district of Vancouver, just south of the downtown area.  We explored our apartment and the vibrant multi-ethnic, multi-cultural community.

Interesting walls of apartments.
Interesting walls of apartments.

View from Mt Pleasant
View from Mt Pleasant

Tomando mate con mi mujer.
Tomando mate con mi mujer.

Interesting books, ordered by color.
Interesting books, ordered by color.

Apartment Cat with her buddy
Apartment Cat with her buddy

Beacon Hill, Seattle, Washington – Our last two weeks were spent here in a district just south of downtown Seattle.  It is walking distance to China town and the international district.  For longer trips, we used our passes on the Soundlink trains and Metro buses. My senior card was definitely worth it. Daughter returned to University.

Sound Link transit
Sound Link transit coming to Beacon Hill Tunnel

Our rootless life continues. New paths and new adventures seem to be more important than new places.