A special auction...conducted by one truly special auctioneer.

Bertram Boyum, the state’s oldest active auctioneer, will conduct a fundraising auction at Semcac Senior Dining in conjunction with his 100th birthday celebration.
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Confessions from a country cafe

Next Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of a very special occasion: the day that Bertram Boyum was born. Semcac Senior Dining will host a party to celebrate Bertram, other friends over 90, and seniors with September birthdays, on Thursday, Sept. 20. The party begins at 10:30 a.m. with music by Casey and the Goodtimers, followed by a meal at 11:30. Boyum, Minnesota’s oldest active auctioneer, will preside over a live auction to benefit the Sunshine Club at noon. All are welcome and invited to attend the party and auction, but reservations are a must for the meal, and can be made by calling 864-2786.

Bertram Boyum was born and raised on the farm, where he learned much about the value of hard work. He attended a one-room country schoolhouse with no electricity, running water, or indoor toilets. In wintertime the teacher would arrive early to build a fire, and when the students began to arrive, she would ask the boys to go down to the basement to bring up the wood for the day. Trips would also be made to a neighbor who lived three blocks away to get the day’s supply of water. Bertram enjoyed good marks in mathematics, but he “couldn’t stay out of the F’s“ in history.

Bertram and older brother Chester stayed with their grandparents in town while attending school, and their folks sent down meal supplies from the farm. Before entering high school, however, each brother helped out on the farm for a year to save the expense of hiring help. Bertram fondly recalls getting his first driving license, obtained in the day when no examinations were necessary, simply the cost of the license, which was no more than a buck or two. He feels fortunate to have learned to drive the hard way — through experience — over steep hills and snowy roads. Bertram was one of 13 students to graduate from Peterson High School in 1937, and to this day he is still pretty good at math.

Being a modest man, Bertram doesn’t crave the hullabaloo of a big party, although this will not be the first time one has been held in his honor. For his 80th birthday bash “way back in the other century,” local favorite Mollie Busta, host of the Mollie B Polka Party on RFD, provided musical entertainment to a big crowd at the Hanson’s Party Shed in Choice. On his 90th birthday, the Blue Denim Farmers Band played at the Lanesboro Community Center. And Boyum says his 99th was “the biggest party yet,” crediting Laurie at Subway for going all out with cake and decorations.

For his 100th birthday bash, Bertram will be performing the work that he has become quite famous for: auctioneering. Last year he was featured in area media for being the oldest auctioneer in the state of Minnesota, and perhaps in the nation. He smiles as he says, “I don’t think you can go too many places to hear a hundred-year-old auctioneer.” Boyum has no qualms about spending his birthday working, as it supports a cause very close to his heart. “I think so much of Senior Dining — it is the most wonderful program. Not only for the good healthy food that they provide, but for the camaraderie, which is especially important for singles. You find out who got sick and who got hurt and who had a baby and everything else.”

With approximately 15 to 20 regular dine-in meals served in Rushford, the workers at Senior Dining also prepare over 150 meals for Meals on Wheels in Rushford and a number of surrounding communities each day. “It all comes out of the Rushford kitchen. The arithmetic that they do in that kitchen…I can’t praise them enough. They always come up with good meals.” Boyum stressed that in order for the auction to be a success, folks need to make donations, and he makes a point of recognizing and thanking those that do. Those interested in donating can contact Senior Dining by phone, 864-2786. All proceeds will go to the Sunshine Club, which operates in conjunction with the Senior Dining program. It will be worth any price paid to hear Boyum sing “The Auctioneer’s Song,” which will certainly be a highlight of the day.

Many may be wondering if Boyum has any secrets for having such an exceptional quality of life at his age. For the past two decades, he has had a very good doctor at Gundersen whom he credits for guiding him on the path of good health. “The body is a wonderful machine. We should help it along and not misuse it.” Boyum smoked a pipe years ago, but since he didn’t inhale, ”it didn’t bother me one bit to quit.” He has never had so much as one beer in his life. When asked, as he often is, how it feels to be a century old, Boyum isn’t sure how to respond. “I don’t feel any different now than I have for some time. I thank God every day for good health.”