Richie to the rescue
One quiet spring morning at Island Park back in 1944 when I was four years old I noticed that all of the snow that had covered the ground and streets for the past six months was all melting and running fast past our house and under the road through a culvert which routed it down a ditch along Manchester Drive and into Cooks Bay of Lake Minnetonka. The rushing water fascinated me as I stumbled along side of the creek throwing sticks into the gushing water and watching as they quickly floated out of sight.
Meanwhile up the road at Grimm’s Store there was a group of big kids from the neighborhood buying candy and talking smart about what they were all going to do on this spectacular day now that winter had finally ended.
One of these big kids was, Richie Lindstrom. Ritchie was roughly 10 years older than I was but he always took the time to stop and talk with all of the younger kids from the neighborhood. On the morning in question, after an hour or so of trying to impress each other, the group of older boys broke up and they all headed in different directions to their homes. Richie had to walk right by our house on the way home and years later he filled me in on what he experienced on his way home that day.
He told me that as he was walking along the shoulder of Brighton Boulevard and right after he had passed Donald Drive he couldn’t believe his eyes. While watching the rushing water flowing from the park at the bottom of Killer Hill (Gordy Swenson Park) and rumbling towards Cooks Bay, he spotted a small child hurriedly floating face down towards the culvert to Cooks Bay. He jumped into the three-foot deep creek and picked up the kid and carried him to dry land and laid him on his stomach as the young boy kept coughing and spiting up water. Richie then turned him over and recognized that it was me. He picked me up and ran to our house to get help from my mom or whoever else was there.
Our house was only about 30 feet from the creek so he had me home in no time at all and by the time he knocked on the door and handed me to my mother I had spit out all of the water that I had inhaled and I was just very scared and crying but otherwise in good condition.
Now we will fast forward about twenty years to another spring morning when I had parked my 52 Chevy in front of Red Graber’s Sporting Goods in Spring Park while I walked next door to the Golden Horn restaurant to have a cup of coffee. When I tried to leave, my car wouldn’t start so I lifted up the hood and was pushing this and pulling that trying to figure out what was wrong with it. Then who came walking by and asked me what was wrong, but Richie.
I turned up and faced him and said, “Ya know Richie, I really don’t know what’s wrong with this car but it is totally your fault.” He looked at me kind of puzzled and said, “What do you mean it’s my fault?” I said, if you would have just left me alone twenty years ago as I was floating down that creek I wouldn’t be having this problem today!” We both paused for a moment and then we both broke into laughter as I called for a tow truck.
Except for a stint in the army during the Korean War, Richie spent his entire life working around the Lake Minnetonka area as a professional house painter unless of course it was hunting or fishing season.
He never changed – he was always there whenever anyone needed help with anything. Richie was a friend to everyone until he passed away at the early age of 63 in 1995.
Thanks Richie for pulling me out of that creek and also for being such a great friend over all of the years.
– Guest Column By Tom Rockvam