Remembering our Register historian
We lost another member of the Faribault County Register family last week.
As an obituary elsewhere in this issue details, Bev Teskey passed away last Sunday, Nov. 10. You can read the details of her life in the obituary, a life that was spent in Blue Earth, working at different businesses along the way, including the Register.
Bev was a walking encyclopedia of Blue Earth history. Her job at the Register was to write the Register Reflections column, which ran every other week in the newspaper (and still does). And she did this job for 20 years, starting in 1996, and only retired from doing it a couple of years ago.
I am pretty sure she didn’t do it just for the money. She did it because she loved doing the research that goes into it.
That research involves going through old copies of the Blue Earth newspapers – the Post, the Register and others. She really enjoyed doing that.
It is something which can become addictive. I know, as I spent a lot of time earlier this year looking through old copies of the newspapers while I was doing research for a story on the history of the ownership of the Blue Earth papers over the past 150 years.
I have often warned people that once you start this, reading old issues, it is hard to stop. You think you will look for a half hour or so, and suddenly two or three or four hours have gone past.
Bev was paid a set amount for writing the Register Reflections every other week. I shudder to think what that might have translated into as an hourly wage, if she spent a lot of time reading the old papers.
She would come into the Register office every other week with her column all written out in long hand, with very nice cursive handwriting. We, of course, had to type it up. I would suggest she could use a computer to do it and then email it, but it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen. That could be because when she brought it in, she would often tell us a little more background on some of the people in the 20, 30 or even 50 years ago news. I started to believe she knew the background of every person and family in town.
There were times when the weather was bad, her car was in the shop, or she had a medical issue, and she would ask me to stop in at her home to pick up the column as she couldn’t get to the office. I quickly learned this was not going to be a quick stop, get the column and leave, deal. I would need to block off some time, because we would have coffee and cookies and visit for a while. I didn’t mind it. She was a very interesting person to talk to.
There were the ‘history of the town’ conversations, of course, but there was also her family. Bev had one wall of her living room covered in photos of her children and grandchildren. She would proudly give me some background on each one of them, going from photo to photo. I found it interesting.
Then there were the photos and letters of her English pen pal, with whom she had been exchanging letters for more than 75 years. In long hand, fancy cursive writing, of course. I found that long time friendship to be so interesting that it became a feature story in the Register.
And then there was this cat. Her cat. The mystery cat.
Bev had many cats over the years, but this one was different. It would disappear for weeks, maybe even months, where Bev would never see it. I know what you are thinking, maybe the cat had died or escaped the house and run off. But no, it was still around, because it would eat the food left for it and use the litter box.
Whenever I stopped at her house or she stopped in at the Register, I would ask Bev if she had seen the cat, and finally she said yes, she had seen it coming out from under the bed in a spare room. It had given her a bored look and gone back into hiding again.
Bev’s work for the Register lives on. We still run the Register Reflections column every other week, and the more recent part of it is compiled and written by reporter Katie Mullaly, but we cheat and use Bev’s writings for the older news. We figure not too many people are going to remember that the 90 years ago news once was in the newspaper as the 80 years ago news 10 years earlier.
I always liked the way Bev would find some clever, funny thing an editor wrote 90 years ago, to include near the end of the column. It always gave me a chuckle. It still does. You can check it out for yourself on page 5 of this issue.
Last Tuesday, someone gave me several old photos of people working at the Blue Earth Post an unknown number of years ago. That was two days after Bev passed away. That’s a shame, because it is something I would have shown Bev, as she probably could have identified the people in the photos.
And then been able to tell me each one’s whole family history…