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A fostering of talent.

June 15, 2016
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Don and Gert Christiansen’s house.

While walking Gunther, I met old Don Christiansen coming out of his house, and he invited me to sit and talk.  I unleashed G., who dashed about, finally settling down with a Burger King fountain drink cup to chew to pieces in front of us.

We moved the lawn chairs a couple of times until we got them satisfactorily into the shade, but also with the right amount of warmth from the sun.

Don and I talked about many things:  dogs, fish, pictures, chainsaws, tools, and rattlesnakes.  He knew a guy who got bit on the leg while irrigating near Joliet.  Made him sick for a few days.

Finally we talked about sports.  Don played sports in his youth.

Recently, he said, when he was at a nursing home, he saw some kids out across the highway playing baseball.  He could watch them through his window, but when a member of the staff took him outdoors and left him to be closer to the game, the kids were not visible from the nursing home grounds.  You had to be up higher, like where he had been when he saw them out his window, he said.  He never did see them play after first seeing them out his window.

Then we talked about basketball.  He said his wife Gert is a “basketball nut.”

Don said that when he was back from the the Korean war, in college, that the coach at Eastern Montana College invited him to practice with the team.

Don had played basketball in high school.

However, although Don had to decline the invitation, he felt honored to be asked.  He said he was deeply touched by the coach’s thoughtfulness and willingness to foster talent.  We had spoken of other teachers we knew who helped students develop their strengths.

That was Coach Alterowitz, after whom the gymnasium at MSU-Billings was named. Then, Don said with a grin, “that so impressed me that I’m still affected by it.”

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