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Bob Lind, Published March 30 2014

Neighbors: Stiff penalty for playing wrong note

You wouldn’t think Lance Johnson of Dilworth, famed for his Johnson Organ Co. and his organ playing, would ever hit a wrong note.

But he admits he did, in terms of behavior, when he was a kid in Fergus Falls, Minn., becoming what he calls “the subject of a new type of punishment that I can assure you is 100 percent effective.”

Lance wrote of it in his book, “Fergus Falls and the Fabulous Fifties.” But it was in 1948 when this incident occurred.

When Lance was a member of the Adams Elementary School basketball team, he wrote, the team members were warned not to touch the old upright piano in the gym during or after practice.

But one day, Lance went over to it anyhow and plunked out some notes. Then he went to the hallway to get a drink of water.

Just then, the school’s principal and fifth-grade teacher, Martha Grindeland, appeared and asked, “Who played the piano just now?

“I heard it, but I didn’t see it,” Lance fibbed.

Back in the gym, Martha blew her whistle to gather the team around her and asked them who had played the piano.

The team members squealed on Lance, saying, “as if on cue,” he wrote, “’Lance did it!’

“I was taken out of practice and marched down to her room, where she told me to sit motionless with my hands folded and look straight ahead for one hour,” Lance wrote.

“After about 20 minutes, I unfolded my hands to see if I could get away with it. Seeing me do this out of the corner of her eye, she added 15 more minutes.

“The reader cannot imagine how difficult this is to do for a 10-year-old.

“This was my first experience with detention,” Lance concludes, “and I can assure you, it was the last!”

Now, here’s a footnote to this story.

In 1967, Lance’s firm built a pipe organ for Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Warren, Minn.

Lance learned later that the organ was dedicated to the memory of Martha Grindeland, the teacher who had sentenced him to an hour of detention.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com