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From a grizzly to a teddy

July 15, 2010 - Karin Elton
I drove to Ivanhoe Wednesday afternoon to meet the new owners of the former Breaktime Cafe, Victoria and Jon Flatgard.

At the Corner Cafe, Victoria said she would get her husband. “We call him Mr. Grumps-a-lot,” she said over her shoulder. I wasn’t surprised. I had kind of detected that when I had called Tuesday. He was a little bit gruff and wasn’t sure who the heck was on the other end of the line.

But I had a secret weapon to make him come around — I knew he was from Westbrook.

When I hear someone is from Westbrook, I always ask if he or she knows my cousin, Steve Kjorness. There is always a positive response and I get the reflected glow.

Steve, originally from Minneota, is a former teacher, coach and superintendent at Westbrook-Walnut Grove and is now retired. He (and his wife, Cathy, a Louwagie) is widely loved and respected.

So I said to Jon, “I don’t suppose you know who Steve Kjorness is. He’s kind of shy and doesn’t get out much.”

Then it starts. “When I see him, I still call him ‘Mr. Kjorness’ or ‘Coach,’” he said in a hushed tone. “I know I can call him ‘Steve,’ but it just doesn’t feel right.”

Flatgard moved back to his hometown after living in Minneapolis for 30-plus years.

After talking about “Coach,” the interview went swimmingly and the story will be in Monday’s paper. Thanks, Cuz!


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