Friday, September 12, 2008

Ralph Plaisted, Polar Explorer

It was somewhat jarring to see a headline starting with the name "Plaisted" on page 6 of the front section of the Journal Sentinel today. I thought at first it might be about me ("Plaisted post convinces paper to bring back Doonesbury") or my brother Jim, who is always quoted in the paper about his excellent work on east side economic development issues. But, no....

My dad’s first cousin, Ralph Plaisted, passed away in Minnesota at the age of 80. Back in the ‘60s, he was drinking in a bar with some friends and they all decided they would try to get to the North Pole by snowmobile. CBS newsman Charles Kuralt went along on their first try with a film crew, resulting in a prime time special and Kuralt’s first book: To the Top Of the World: The Adventures and Misadventures of the Plaisted Polar Expedition, March 28 - May 4, 1967. They failed that year, but made it the next, in 1968; becoming the first explorers to indisputably make it to the Pole (Robert Perry said he did it, but no one outside of his party was entirely sure). So, he got an obit in papers all over the country. Cool.

Ralph came to visit us in New Holstein once after he made it – as I recall he had some speaking engagement in Fond du Lac. He stayed overnight and, actually, I was kicked out to the couch so he could use my bedroom. I don’t think Dad knew him very well; I think he lived a little further north in Minnesota from where Dad grew up in Mora. But he was a nice enough guy, just salt of the earth with a little hard-earned celebrity under his belt.

That’s my family’s little brush with history and fame – a guy, a few beers and some snowmobiles.

8 comments:

John Foust said...

That's snow machine, isn't it?

tommcmahon said...

Cool story. Sounds like a neat guy.

Joseph said...

LMAO,

Mike, like anything you say would convince anybody to keep Doonsbury, the most anti-american BS ever allowed. You severely over estimate what your opininon is worth, much less your attorney skills.

William Tyroler said...

I saw the obit and wondered if you were related and, if so, how closely. Thanks for the answer. Great post.

William Tyroler said...

Today's NYT has a nice obit on Ralph Plaisted (page B9). Registration, if not a subscription, might be required, but there's an on-line posting, here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/13/us/13plaisted.html?ref=us.

Prosqtor said...

This is easily the best post you've ever written. It's about the shortest, and it's utterly lacking in any of the tired MSNBC / David Axelrod talking points ("McCain is OLD! Palin is inexperienced!").

Hmmm...concise + nonpolitical = good. Maybe there should be more of this, and less of the usual junk?

Other Side said...

Mike, were you aware that the fellow named Tim, whom you banned earlier, has a middle name that starts with the letter "J."

Just thought you should know it's probably the same clown.

Other Side said...

Sorry -- Joseph is probably the same guy.