Volume One Contributors

writers, photographers, artists

Eric Rasmussen


Eric Rasmussen is a teacher, writer, father of two and Eau Claire native. This essay was previously published on his blog, The Other Eric Rasmussen: theotherericrasmussen.com/about.

Content By This Contributor:

Rejection Letters From Santa 2019

colorful correspondence between area folks and the big, bearded guy

Eric Rasmussen

Dear Santa, I think I got this, but I wanted to ask for a little reassurance. I’ve had my driver’s license for ...

Dirt Track Destination

Red Cedar Speedway is home to generations of racers and their fans

Eric Rasmussen, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Full disclosure: On a Thursday night, I drove to the races at Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie in a 2014 Kia Forte. It’s comfortable, gets good gas mileage, and has a touch screen with a map. I like ...

Talent From Inside

literary and art publication helps incarcerated artists find their voices

Eric Rasmussen

Most artists and writers can readily find places to show off their work, whatever their aspirations. Social media, blogs, local and national publications ...

How I Decided My Son Was Ready for a Cellphone by Fifth Grade

Eric Rasmussen

Our family had a problem that social cues couldn’t solve. According to my son, EVERYONE in his fourth-grade class already had a cellphone. I’m not clear on how he came by this data; I assume he prepared a paper survey ...

Our Broke Kids

Children Are the Ultimate Fixer-Uppers

Eric Rasmussen

Our children come to us broken. They have crooked teeth and insatiable appetites for sugar and screen time. They arrive with no knowledge or values. Modern kids are the ultimate fixer-upper, the biggest project we can sign up for.

Chronic Senioritis

planning Senior Skip Day gives high school students a taste of ‘real world’ complexity

Eric Rasmussen

For proof of how local young people have grown during their years in the Eau Claire Area School District, we only need to look at one piece of evidence: the planning of the annual Senior Skip Day ...

Rejection Letters From Santa 2016

colorful correspondence between area folks and the big, bearded guy

Eric Rasmussen

"Did you know that in some of these fancy new hotels I can charge my phone right from the nightstand? That’s unbelievable. The days of moving the dresser and having to unplug a lamp are long gone. ..."

The Toys We're Keeping: appreciating those long-lost gifts for what they are

Eric Rasmussen, design by Serena Wagner

Santa was always very kind to me. Every one of my Christmas mornings featured some notable gift that came to define the whole year, like the animals on the Chinese calendar placemats at the Asian buffet restaurants. The year of the Nintendo. The year of Crossfire. The year of Castle Grayskull...

Pool Identity: The making of an Eau Claire icon

after over 25 years, the Fairfax Pool in Eau Claire is still a summertime hotspot for sunshine, water, and nachos

Eric Rasmussen, design by Serena Wagner

The importance of the year 1991 in Eau Claire history cannot be overstated. People built buildings. And roads. Controversy regarding all sorts of stuff rankled the residents of the Chippewa Valley ...

Getting Better With Age

a beloved teacher’s poems mark a midlife milestone

Eric Rasmussen, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Let’s start with a quick exercise. Read the following description of a local writer and educator, and then try to guess how old he is. Mr. P (let’s call him Mr. P) is one of the Valley’s most beloved English teachers. Everywhere he goes, former students approach him to share cherished memories and excited updates on what they’ve been up to since high school ...

Icy Reflections

laments swirling around the old neighborhood rink

Eric Rasmussen

My kids are seven and five, so they don’t know any better. I like to take them sledding at Mitscher Park, the neighborhood park just a block south of our house. There’s no technical sledding hill in the acre-ish field. It is essentially a big divot in the middle of the grid of houses south of Hamilton Avenue, west of Rudolph Road, and east of State Street ...

Curling: The Other Ice Sport

Eric Rasmussen, photos by Jeff Thompson

While entertainment options for kids grow more and more complicated, parents need to remember the cardboard box principal: No matter how fancy the toy, the box it came in is likely to receive the most attention. This same idea can apply to the sports world, too. While the intricate rules and strategies ...

'Strange Little Punk Odes'

stories explore emotional turmoil of Midwestern youth

Eric Rasmussen, photos by Kelsey Smith

In his short story collection Marcel, Eau Claire native Grant Maierhofer crafts a line that skillfully sums up the relationship between late teen/early twenty-something locals and their hometowns: “The sky was miserable and blue.” No matter how attractive the city, no matter how blue the sky ...

Out at Coon Fork

why we endure the voluntary isolation of camping with family

Eric Rasmussen, illustrated by Serena Wagner

‘What do you think family camping will be like in 20 years?” my cousin asked. We sat in the middle of the road on folding camp chairs, because that was the only place we could find some shade. Camping weekend is always either too hot or too cold. This was a hot year, and the family all loitered ...

Every Good Boy Does Fine

piano lessons aren't as odious as emptying the garbage

Eric Rasmussen

I took piano lessons the old fashioned way, in Mrs. Skutely’s dim basement. With sheet music tucked under my arm I biked to her house, then let myself in through her garage door. I sat on a floral couch in the unofficial waiting area farther down the wood-paneled room while the kid before me finished up. ...

Where the Music Starts

talent teachers, wide participation foster a quality music education system in the valley

Eric Rasmussen

Understanding a music education system that has produced locally and nationally notable musicians for decades, that encompasses public schools, private instruction, and nonprofit organizations, and that enjoys broad community support is an incredibly complicated task. ...

Don't Go Changing

a handful of local businesses are totally acing the test of time

Eric Rasmussen, photos by Travis Dewitz

I apologize for bragging, and many of you probably know this already, but I was on the champion Parks and Rec 11-13 year old baseball team in 1992. It might have been 1991, or 1993, but either way it was a major event in my life and in the history of the city. Local baseball fans undoubtedly still discuss the skills ...

A Preschool Commencement Speech or Why Certificates Aren't So Bad

Eric Rasmussen

This afternoon, something momentous happened. You all, you four and five year olds, many with faces already sullied with cake frosting and outfits chosen haphazardly by your frantic parents or by your colorblind selves, reached the first milestone in life accompanied by a certificate ...

Lil’ Gardeners

the kids at Lily Pad Lab have a small plot in the Southside Community garden

Eric Rasmussen

Apparently 14 hours of television a day no longer makes for a constructive summer, so community kids and parents are thankful that the Lily Pad Lab has teamed up with the Southside Community Gardens to host several classes.

Nickolas Butler: Familiar Landscapes

Butler explores light and dark sides of Midwest in short-story collection

Eric Rasmussen, photos by Andrea Paulseth

There is an Upper Midwest narrative that started somewhere around Little House in the Big Woods and strings together generations of writing, from Aldo Leopold up through some of the Chippewa Valley’s most successful modern artists, such as Michael Perry and Justin Vernon ...

Rejection Letters From Santa - 2014

colorful correspondence between area folks and the bearded guy

Eric Rasmussen

My grandma says we’re already spoiled but we want MORE COOL STUFF! First, we want a new science building that floats in the air so ...

Off Like a Shot

debut novel generating international buzz, Hollywood interest

Eric Rasmussen

Just in case you have ever wondered about this sort of thing, here is how an interview with a western Wisconsin author might go. The author and interviewer meet at the author’s house at a mutually agreed-upon time that allows ...

Going Home Again

what it’s like to start living in your childhood home as an adult

Eric Rasmussen, illustrated by Kat Wesely

Just to be clear, I am NOT admitting that I threw parties at my parents’ house when I was in high school and they would leave me home alone for the weekend. I would never admit to such a thing for numerous reasons, including, but not limited to ...

Spotted in EC: Polite bike theft victim

Mike Paulus, photos by Eric Rasmussen

A big thanks to V1 senior writer Eric Rasmussen for snapping this photo of a hand-written sign he found outside of a shop in Downtown Eau Claire. It reads ...

Intercepted Valentines

private letters of love that somehow found their way to our senior contributor, Eric Rasmussen

Eric Rasmussen

"My sweet, how I yearn for you! My world is nothing but hops and barley, when all I desire is your sugary enchantment. Orange Kool-Aid, with your vibrant neon color and thirst-quenching deliciousness … keeping our love a secret has plunged ..."

Feeling Philanthropic

mulling the future of Eau Claire’s philanthropic traditions

Eric Rasmussen

The generous city grandpas of yore discovered something that some of today’s wealthy have forgotten. ... They understood, when all was said and done, that their bank accounts were not filled in a vacuum, but as members of a community.

Local Letters to Santa (2011)

colorful correspondence between area folks and the big, bearded guy

Eric Rasmussen

Sorry, but I was just sitting here thinking … Is this about the Three Brothers/Laredos/Pink Pig/Dakota Grill/Klassix building? I know you were a big fan of all the restaurants at that place. You know that wasn’t my fault, right?

Targeting Cancer

event to explore treating cancer through nutrition

Eric Rasmussen

We are all becoming more comfortable with alternatives to traditional, “western” medicine to cure all that ails us. Heck, the poultice we whipped together from herbs and Half Moon Lake scum took care of some warts that were going around the office...

Police Reports | Nov. 10, 2011

lessons we learned from local police reports

Eric Rasmussen

There are many proponents of saving the environment, no matter what the cost. Whether those people would support stealing your neighbor’s 40-foot windmill is debatable.

The Real Old Abe

famous local bird celebrates 150th anniversary

Eric Rasmussen

The Chippewa Valley has enjoyed a modest assortment of famous locals...THE most famous resident from these parts is pretty clear. Tributes to this celebrity adorn all of the police cars and police uniforms in Eau Claire, a local high school...

Saddled Up

Memorial High School has an Equestrian Team?

Eric Rasmussen, photos by Mike Switzer

Horses have not figured into the lives of many Americans for a very long time. Thanks for nothing, cars. At this point, horses mainly serve two purposes for most city-dwellers.

FEATURE: Tube Town

Trevor Kupfer, Kaitlyn Heisick, Eric Rasmussen, Frank Smoot, photos by V1 Staff & Contributors 

The Chippewa Valley has a massive inner-tube floating scene, and this guide breaks down the local origin of the activity, what the big annual events are all about, the economic impact of it, plus what you need, where to go, and how to do it right.

Borders Be Gone

as one story ends, perhaps a new chapter can begin ... turn the page

Eric Rasmussen, illustrated by Garrett Brunker

It’s the economic circle of life. Now we all hate to see Borders go, but that opens the door for something even better. Maybe some enterprising local can open an amazing store downtown.

Just Local Food to Party Like a Seven Year Old

Eric Rasmussen

When a local business passes from childhood into the adolescence of established neighborhood institution, recognition is deserved. When that business not only sells products, but also has a mission that includes facilitating relationships...

The Driven Snow

a local winter memory

Eric Rasmussen

I desperately held on to my aunt, simultaneously trying to stay on the back of the swerving snowmobile and hoping to keep my lunch down. Something was wrong ...

Local Letters to Santa

colorful correspondence between area folks and the big, bearded guy

Eric Rasmussen

You’ll have to forgive us BECAUSE WE ARE A LITTLE ON EDGE. It’s just, you know, when your absolute destruction is coming, but you just don’t know when … THAT GUY HAS FIREWOOD – WAS IT PURCHASED LOCALLY?!?

Back Against the Mall

our local shopping mall just isn’t what it used to be. or is it?

Eric Rasmussen

He explained to me that a healthy downtown and a thriving mall do not have to be mutually exclusive goals. He’s right.

The Chippewa Valley's Horseradish Rival: Collinsville, IL

somewhere in southern Illinois lies the city of Collinsville, population 24,707

Eric Rasmussen

In terms of reputation, though, Collinsville has worked very hard to equate their name with horseradish. A few of their claims are a little shady.

FEATURE: Horseradish Hotspot

Insights on the Chippewa Valley's Little-Known Creamy Cash Crop

Eric Rasmussen, photos by Hannah Hebl

“(Horseradish) is essentially a weed. ... (We) frequently get phone calls from gardeners who have tried growing some of their own, looking for advice on how to kill it.”

Our Horseradish Rival: Collinsville, Illinois

Eric Rasmussen

Somewhere in southern Illinois lies the city of Collinsville, population 24,707, and this city has turned promotion of its horseradish industry into an art form.

Questioning the Locals | Mona Lisa

What exactly are you staring at all day?

Eric Rasmussen

"I find it amusing that I could be the world’s most popular and beloved drag show."

Centipedes Attack!(?)

a natural and sustainable lifestyle has many, many legs

Eric Rasmussen, illustrated by Holly Zimmerman

Before I toss the paper wad and corpse into the toilet, I always have to look. Usually its legs are still twitching. Then, as the adrenaline wears off over the next few hours, I lay in bed, unblinking, until I cry myself to sleep.

Police Reports | April 8, 2010

lessons we learned from police reports recently published in the Leader-Telegram

Eric Rasmussen

A Sam’s Club box of bleach can hold $330 worth of computer software, video games, and meat.