Meet Herman Lensing

If you’re attending a play or program, sitting in the stands at a local football game or anywhere on the streets in the Melrose, Greenwald or Meire Grove area. He will likely to encounter reporter, Herman Lensing trudging along, backpack and camera in hand, likely on his way to cover something for the local newspaper. Herman’s been doing this for almost a quarter of a century now, and wherever he goes he is greeted by folks of all ages with a “Hi, Herman!” or “What ‘cha up to, Herman?” Always ready to answer any question put to him, and always ready to pick up news wherever he finds it. This man is well known in his community for always being there and ready to participate in the projects at hand. Fine Arts. One of his favorite projects, however, happens to be involvement in the area theatre groups under the direction of Marit Elliott, a teacher in the Melrose High School. “Herman has been involved onstage with the Town and Country Players and the Summer Sauk River Players for about 30 productions. He is the ‘master builder’ of our scenery and is always willing to appear onstage, even in musicals, which aren’t his favorite. Herman has also directed three plays-3 act productions-not musicals,” said Elliott. “We’re very fortunate to have Herman so active in community theatre and even school theatre.  We can count on him to build, or appear onstage.” Lensing gets very busy during play and rehearsal times for these performances. Whether involved in an acting part or not, he spends every spare minute he has on the set helping to create a stage setting that always blends in well with the story, and at the same time carrying on his regular job for the newspaper. Elliott has the knack of choosing just the right people to play each role and Herman has usually been one of these ‘good fits” for his roles. Portraying St. Nicholas, the Bishop This time of year Lensing remembers when he was young, and his mom telling him that St. Nicholas actually was a Bishop in the country of Turkey. He was quite impressed with the story of this kindly man who would anonymously donate gifts to people in need by throwing bags of money and food through their windows or leave them in their shoes outside the door. Herman decided to dress up like St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, and help the Greenwald area Santa’s distribute their treats on Dec. 6.  He enjoyed seeing the youngsters as they encountered this gentle Bishop with the long, grey beard, who actually lived many years ago. He realized that some youngsters actually feared being beaten by St. Nicholas, which evidently is part of some of the legends that have abounded through the years. Lensing hoped they came away with a different idea about St. Nicholas. Herman’s favorite play performance was in “The Cotton Patch Gospel, ”a story that retells the life of Jesus as if in modern day, rural Georgia. Priesthood? “After high school, I actually explored looking at the priesthood”, said Lensing, “but I was always interested in people who wrote well in papers. I remember reading articles that appeared in a spectrum from the Time Magazine to the American Opinion Magazine, and another thing I always looked forward to was the Sporting News and a columnist named Joe Fall out of Detroit who had a neat way of writing about people I had never met, but suddenly I thought, ‘Gee, I know these people!’” Lensing continued, “After reading all kinds of books, I found out a lot of the authors were journalists. I thought, there had to be something to that. I started looking into writing as a career, and it turned out to be just that – a career.” History Lensing is very knowledgeable about history, his favorite subject (next to baseball probably). He said a most intriguing story he wrote involved meeting a student from East Germany at the time the country was definitely going to unify. Hearing the student’s story about the day the Wall actually fell, and his hopes for now being able to get more information on a medical condition or concern that he had, made a very interesting story for him. Another experience Lensing really appreciated was being able to go over to Kenya with the St. Cloud Diocese Program. “I went there because I was interested in how they lived their Catholicism there, and at the time I went I was thinking I would be assigned a place more like Melrose, Freeport or Meire Grove, but I ended up in a place more like St. Cloud, and as it turned out, it might not have been the worst thing because you never know how God works.” “I ended up meeting with a lot of administrators,” continued Lensing, “ and, since I was used to meeting with administrative types, it was wonderful. When the Kenyans came back here this fall to visit the Diocese, it was a very nice reunion. This is a real memory for me and I wonder if I hadn’t been a writer, I might not have gone.” Herman also made two trips to Nicaragua on a Reverse Mission with Father Tony Kroll and also one with Father Ted Niehaus. Lensing helped to build a school and a church there. Newspaper Business Lensing’s everyday role as a newspaper reporter actually started in 1986, making it almost a quarter of a century that he has worked for the local newspaper as a writer and later as the Assistant Editor. Enjoying his job, Herman appreciates meeting a variety of people and the flexibility it entails. “Growing up on a farm where we had to have that flexibility too, like if it rained, you didn’t bale, but did something else. You can’t just do one swat on a hay field and decide to bale a month later,” he said. “I have met the whole spectrum of political and sports people and up and down the line. I doubt I would have ever met the seventh grader who shoots 25 baskets in a row and the next day, be talking to someone like Ron Berringer, or ever having been able to just see the President of the U.S. personally, live, because of my job.” Family Fun Herman loves baseball and knows it inside and out and has the stats through the many years to prove it!  Possibly Lensing’s fascination with the game of baseball had its beginning on the farm Southwest of Greenwald where he grew up with his siblings: Theresa, Rose Marie, Jane, Andrew (deceased), Marianne, Rita, Ray, Gloria, Michael, Julie, Beth, and David. Herman’s father, Cletus Lensing, who is now deceased, played many years of baseball with the Green Grove Baseball Team, and I’m sure Anna Mae, his mom, was an avid fan. “We played ball a lot at home,” said Herman.  “There was a flowering plant that was home plate, and we always batted out towards the barn. I don’t think that plant is there anymore after the last one of us slid across it,” said Herman with a grin. He continued, “We had a little hole below the window on top of the barn where the rope came through to pull hay up and into the barn, and I think everyone’s dream was to hit a ball through that hole. The sidings on the barn wall were evidence of it as we got older!”

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