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Yes, it looks just like a street light

By Staff | Jun 11, 2012

I have to admit, I was a skeptic.

When I first heard the name Donald Deskey at a Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce meeting, I had no idea who he was.

I was told he was a well-known industrial designer, who had been born and raised in Blue Earth.

They said he was famous.

OK. But I had never heard of him. And the people I asked had never heard of him either.

I had my suspicions that this was another case of a small town latching on to some low-key celebrity native son.

You know, you’ve seen the signs on the edge of towns.

“Welcome to Podunk, Minnesota. Hometown of Lars Johnson, who once played for the New York Yankees farm club.”

To some extent, Blue Earth’s claim to Donald Deskey is similar, except that I am pretty sure there are no plans for a sign on the edge of town.

But, there are definitely plans for a bronze plaque inside of town. And it will be placed this week in front of the Donald Deskey street light in Gazebo Park and then will be part of the dedication ceremony this coming Saturday.

The story of the street light has some interesting twists.

When Al Eisele first contacted me about the idea of getting a Deskey street light to be placed in Blue Earth, I told him that might be a nice idea.

Then he called back and said he had obtained one and wanted to know how ‘we’ should get it to Blue Earth from New York City.

Oh-oh. Suddenly I was involved in this scheme.

There were some problems.

First, a street light, it turns out, is a very large, heavy and cumbersome object. Who knew?

I didn’t think I would be able to drive out to NYC and put it in the back of my van and bring it back.

Al checked out the shipping costs. The guy said it would be $1,200 to $1,500 to ship it. Turns out he was wrong. It was closer to $1,800.

I tried to raise some funds to help defray the cost. I only had a few takers.

Then Al called and said the shipper had crated up the light and it was ready to go. Where should they send it.

Oh-oh. I wasn’t sure I wanted a massive 20-foot long wooden crate delivered to my front door.

I gave him the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce’s address and alerted the chamber director, Shelly Griemann, that it was on its way.

The next day she resigned from her post.

OK, I am pretty sure the two are not related. And actually Shelly had resigned before the shipping actually happened and new director Cindy Lyon was fresh on the job. But I thought I would embellish this story a little so it didn’t become boring.

So, I told Cindy the Deskey street light was on its way. She looked at me like I had told her space aliens were landing at Giant Park.

What are we going to do with a street light, she asked. Put it somewhere, I said. Like maybe Gazebo or Giant Park.

Who is going to do that, she wondered. I suggested it would be the chamber executive’s job to organize it.

Luckily, she believed me. And took the bull by the horns and contacted all the necessary people to get this thing done.

Cindy called me the day the thing arrived. She had contacted Jamie Holland of the city crew and they had decided to have it delivered to the fairgrounds and stored in one of the buildings there.

That was a good idea. The crate was even larger than I had thought. It looked like it contained enough lumber to start an addition on a house. It took a forklift to move it around.

We opened it up.

Cindy could not hide her disappointment.

It looks like a street light, she said. That’s because it is a street light, I answered.

No, she said, it looks like every other street light. I guess she was expecting something much more spectacular.

But, the truth is, she was right. It does look like a street light.

But the deal is, it was the first one of the new-look street lights, replacing those from the 1890s.

Someone else asked when the light was going to be installed in the park. I said it already was.

They looked and said they thought that light was just a regular city light.

It is, I?said. A regular New York City light.

At any rate, the street light that lit up the Big Apple for many years is now lighting up a piece of Blue Earth.

Just like every other street light does.