Ulmer: A look back at 46 years of column writing | Columnists


In 1976 John and Ken Maher asked me to write a weekly column for the Finder. In due time they transferred me to their Mandan News and I have been here ever since. The next paragraph contains math, so some of you might just want to skip to paragraph three.

Since you are still with me, I will further elucidate the previous point. 2022-1976 = 46 years x 50 weeks = 2,300 weekly $10 chronicles = $23,000 I wasted somewhere. My two loyal readers know that I’ve become quite dependent on the $40/month and I’m not complaining because over time it becomes part of my fixed income that we seniors depend on.

At first I was writing these notes by hand (it’s pen and paper for those of you still in school). There were a number of times I couldn’t find a tablet so I wrote things down on anything I could find, paper plates worked as long as I could keep my stripes in the game plate flat, paper napkins worked until you unfold them, wraps worked fine but the lick side was always hard to notice, paper napkins were too soft and sometimes I wrote something on my hand and arm, but my advice on this is to not use permanent markers.

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To complicate this further, my best calligraphy sucks, so I was very grateful that my personal care attendant, Marguerite, could decipher and type anything I handed her. She would be the first to say that my writing skills suck. Microsoft Word has since replaced all of that.

For the record, one or another of my loyal readers will probably argue that there were times when what I had to say on these pages wasn’t worth $10. All I can say about this is “some days the magic works and some days it doesn’t” and I sincerely hope my editor doesn’t follow up on such things because I’ve already spent all the money.

Anyway, if you’re wondering where all this came from, Ken Maher stopped by our house and we missed him, so he left an envelope in the door that said, “I just did 2 400 miles to see you and you weren’t home.” Of course, he filled the envelope with documents about his foundation, with a self-addressed envelope stamped with “Point of Contact Foundation”, a brochure and business cards. I called his cell phone but he lost contact with me so I wrote a check equivalent to 10 columns, stuffed it in the envelope and next thing you know the previous words came up.

I always considered myself lucky and never imagined myself being a writer, but looking back, I really enjoyed jotting things down as I went.

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public servant, non-profit leader and opinionated citizen who believes we should do what we can to make the world better than we found it.

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