Every year, the arrival of Isle Days brings with it the Grand Parade. Among the variety of floats, vehicles and marchers who make their way down Main Street rides the grand marshal. These communal paragons are honored for the years of hard work and devotion they’ve brought the community. This year’s Isle Days grand marshals are Charles “Bubbles” and Phyllis Haggberg. The pair have worked for decades with area organizations like the Isle School Board and Isle Lions Club. Having lived his entire life in Isle, Bubbles can recall the ever changing face of the Isle community.
Born in a house near the current location of the Faith Lutheran Church on May 24, 1936, Bubbles has lived his entire life in the Isle area. “Actually, his family has been here for years and years,” Phyllis added. “His grandparents were one of the first settlers.” While Phyllis had been born in Effie, Minn., her family moved to the Isle area in 1953, and she graduated from Isle High School in 1958.
When it came to contributions made to the community, Bubbles had been a member of the Isle School Board for over a decade. He had been a member of the committee that worked to build the new high school building. “There were about 80 of us on that committee,” he said, “but I felt honored to have been asked to be on it.” He was also a long standing member of the Isle Lions, having joined back in 1988. He had played a number of roles within the club, including being a member of the Nyquist scholarship committee. Reflecting on these various roles, he added, “I was never in anything political though. I’m not a good politician. I have my thoughts, but most of the time, I keep them to myself.”
Phyllis had also been a member of the Isle Lions, though she hadn’t participated for a number of years. She added that both she and Bubbles were actively involved with the local Faith Lutheran Church. “I guess the best things that I am,” she said, “are that I’m a good wife, a good mother and a wonderful grandma.”
“And we’ve been married for 60 years,” Phyllis said. They had met during their time in high school, despite Bubbles being four years ahead of her and Phyllis moving to Isle his junior year. “We both lived in town,” she explained, “and happened to know each other.”
During his working years, Bubble’s explained, he would drive over to the family business in McGregor. The work involved making a range of lumber products, such as kitchen cabinets and face frame materials. “I made the commitment, for years, to drive back and forth between here and McGregor,” he said, “but I knew when I got done up there, that I would always be back here.” Phyllis added that the couple never had any intention of moving out of the community.
‘So many stories’
“I was born in town by the lake here,” Bubbles reflected, “and I enjoyed that. I still love it. All is well. That was a big pull to stay in Isle.” After a moment’s thought, he noted, “I’ve seen a lot of changes here.”
Bubbles’ decades of living in Isle had left him with many stories to tell of the area. “There’s been so many changes, so many stories I have,” he said. “... What we did back then compared to what kids are doing now, it’s all turned 360 degrees.”
Baseball in particular was a particular source of recollection for Bubbles. When he was 14, he said, there used to be a winter-summer league in town with two youth baseball teams, peewees and midgets. “Of course, I was too old for peewees,” he said. His coach, he elaborated, made sure the team could bunt the ball. “It’s a hidden art nowadays. Major leaguers can’t even do it. This was fundamental stuff.” There a been a game down in Mora, he said. The coach had signaled for a bunt. The batter tapped to the base to confirm and caught the catcher’s hand right as he was cleaning off the base.
His love for baseball continued after he returned from his stint in the Navy in 1956. As Isle didn’t have a community team in those days, he played with the town team in Onamia. He recalled the experience with some chagrin. “Living 13 miles apart, that was a major rivalry. If you went a whole season and you only beat Onamia, it was successful. They probably felt the same about us.” The town had players of all ages, whether they were high schoolers or 30 years old. That was my focus growing up,” he said. “I just love playing ball.”
As for his nickname, Bubbles gave a laugh. “That was my grandma Wealthy. She gave me that name when I was a baby. I suppose I was just getting teeth, and I was blowing them out. She hung that on me, and I still got it.” He figured he would only be able to get away from the name if he moved to a new community.
Phyllis said that she didn’t have any exciting stories to offer. She noted, “I’m not the history person; [Bubbles] is.” Giving it some thought, however, she did add that she had worked at the Lakeside Bank for many years. This tenure had included a bank robbery that had occurred back in 1973. “I passed out the money,” she said. Bubbles elaborated, “I came home from work, and my dad’s car was sitting in the yard. And I thought ‘oh no, what’s going on.’ All three were sitting on the couch, and [Phyllis] was just a nervous wreck coming off that robbery.”
Bubbles has over 80 years of perspective to offer from his life living in the Isle community, and Phyllis has journeyed with him for many of those years. The pair continue on the long legacy of the Haggberg family in Isle. And as they take their place in this year’s grand parade, they’ll be making another story in the town they’ve long called home.