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On the Light Side

May 16, 1990

MOSCOW, Minn. (AP) _ Most Muscovites are Scandinavian, can’t buy vodka locally and would say it’s whistling ″Volga Boatmen″ to think that Mikhail S. Gorbachev would ever visit the Moscow on Turtle Creek.

Still, Moscow next week will consider whether to send Gorbachev an invitation to stop by when visits Minneapolis-St. Paul on June 3, township board Chairman Richard Ruble said Tuesday.

Ruble, a 68-year-old farmer who sees no irony in his name being the same as the Soviet currency, knows the chances of Gorbachev traveling 100 miles south of Minneapolis to Minnesota’s Moscow are slim. But ″you’ve got to be hospitable.″

″It would be a perfect opportunity for us to blow our horn,″ Ruble said, though he initially was at a loss to say what accomplishments the township could boast. ″I’d like to brag, but I can’t think of anything.″

Gorbachev’s visit to Minnesota comes at the invitation of Gov. Rudy Perpich, who sent him a letter in February saying the Soviet Union could benefit from the U.S. heartland’s agricultural and technological expertise.

″We even have a town called Moscow in Minnesota,″ Perpich said in the letter.

Time was when there were big plans for the little burg.

There was a water-powered sawmill and later a steam-powered one, a store with a post office, a creamery, a hotel, a blacksmith shop and a schoolhouse, said Georges Denzene, Freeborn County Historical Society president.

″Freeborn County Heritage,″ published in 1988 by the historical society, said the first Moscow store ″did a lively trade in spirits.″

″But the railroad went to Austin and the village withered on the vine,″ Ruble said.

There are no liquor stores or other shops at all now in Moscow, and no one of Russian descent as far as Ruble and township Clerk J. Michael Taylor know.

″They’re mostly Scandinavian - Swedish and Norwegian,″ Taylor said.

So how did the township get its name?

Legend has it that when the township was being named, a forest fire reminded locals of the burning of Moscow when Napoleon invaded in 1812, Denzene said.


WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) - The mayor of Bridgeport, W.Va., and his counterpart in Bridgeport, Ohio, both like fishing, watching West Virginia University football and drinking bourbon.

They also have the same last name.

Charles Furbee has been mayor of Bridgeport, an Ohio town just west of the Ohio River from Wheeling, for 11 years.

Carl Furbee has been mayor of Bridgeport, about 60 miles southeast of Wheeling, for the past year. He also served as mayor in 1973-77.

The two have never met, don’t know if they’re related and had never heard of each other until a friend sent the Ohio mayor a newspaper article about the West Virginia mayor, a pharmacist who in turn learned of his counterpart from a pharmaceutical salesman.

″I couldn’t believe it,″ Charles Furbee said.

The two mayors share another similarity. Both served in the Pacific in wartime: Charles during the Korean War, Carl during World War II.

″I’d really like to meet this guy. We’ll have to get together sometime,″ Carl Furbee said.

″Yes, we’ll definitely have to get together,″ Charles Furbee said.

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