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Day-in, day-out Academy Awards

Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist Lynn Hummel recently published his fourth book, "The Last Word," a collection of some of his favorite columns from the past 40 years.

Every year about this time, the Motion Picture Academy awards Oscars to the best actors, actresses, movies, music, sound affects (24 categories) of the movies of the past year.

This year was the 90th year. The awards this year were on March 4. This article was written before March 4, so I have no idea who the winners were.

You do by now, but it doesn't matter, this isn't about glitz, fame, fortune, plunging necklines and long speeches. It's about the day-in, day-out (DIDO) services of ordinary, hard working men and women we see every day.

Celebrities aren't important here. What we're doing in this column, for the 13th consecutive year, is to announce awards from our own DIDO Academy, giving recognition and compliments to those who serve us and make our lives better.

In past years we have recognized a shoe repair couple, a cheerful bakery lady, a once-in-a-lifetime secretary, a class of technical college students, nursing home workers, railroad engineers, over the road truckers, nightshift workers, police, firemen, teachers, two-job workers, and those who stand by day after day on call for emergencies. Last year we honored those who deliver papers every day of the year, all holidays included.

This year we honor folks who clean. We recognize them in five categories: school custodians, commercial and church custodians, domestic workers, sanitation workers and highway ditch volunteers. We couldn't get along without all of them.

First, school custodians. Back when I was a school boy, I attended the Garrison, North Dakota, public school grades 1-12. For all those years, the only, or main custodian, was my friend Bob Callies.

I swear Bob knew every kid in that school by name. He certainly knew mine. There must have been 400-500 of us all in one school building. In addition to being our pal and unofficial counselor, Bob ran a spotless operation and had plants and flowers throughout the building and flower beds on the school grounds.

About the time I graduated, the community needed a separate elementary school and they built Bob Callies Elementary and Bob was named chief custodian. Imagine cleaning your own school. Years later, after the old 1-12 grade school burned to the ground, a new high school was built, and the gymnasium was named after another custodian, Roy Schei.

Garrison showed its class by honoring two first class citizens who happened to be custodians. I'm proud of those gestures by my home town.

Commercial and church custodians work day and night, mostly at night, keeping our churches, hospitals, nursing homes, stores, and public buildings ship shape. Mostly they work out of sight and mostly we don't see or adequately appreciate their efforts, unless there is an interruption where the job temporarily doesn't get completed.

Mary, from our church, just retired after 25 years of spotless cleaning and didn't get the recognition she deserved. They ought to build a new addition and call it St. Mary's.

Domestic workers work in homes for the elderly, disabled, or others unable to do the chores themselves. Wherever they work, they raise the standard of living in that home. They know all the products and techniques that mark them as professionals. Hotel and motel domestic workers are professionals too. They generally have to complete a designated number of rooms in a given time. Then when domestic workers complete their assigned duties, they have to rush off to another job.

The fourth category of cleaning people are sanitation workers. Every day, long before the sun comes up, their huge trucks lumber up and down our streets and alleys picking up and emptying our garbage and recycling. Always on schedule. They have their schedules, so we have to have our own schedules. Their jobs keep our communities neat and clean. They are essential to civilized living and they need to be appreciated and thanked.

The unpaid must be honored as well. We need to recognize those volunteers who sign up and deliver on cleaning up trash along our roads and highways. Whoever thought up the idea of having volunteers do this work was a genius. And the unpaid citizens who clean up the roadside clutter are heroes.

Day-in and day-out, the folks who clean make our lives cleaner, neater, and better by getting their hands dirty and doing the hard work that keeps our wheels turning. There's not a George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, or Meryl Streep among them. We honor them with our DIDO awards this year.

Order Lynn Hummel's new book, The Last Word (171 articles, 310 pages) by sending $15 plus $3 postage ($10 plus postage for additional books) to Pony Express Books, 1948 Long Bridge Road, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, or order at: