Local TV icon ‘Carmen the Nurse’ dies

Carmen the Nurse has died. The PiPress’s Kristi Belcamino writes, “Although Mary Davies Orfield raised only six children in her home, an entire generation of Minnesotans considered her their TV mom. The singer and actress who played Carmen the Nurse on the WCCO children’s morning TV show ‘Axel and His Dog’ died Friday. She was 88. The show opened in August 1954 and for the next decade, thousands of Minnesota children spent their mornings eating cereal and watching Carmen the Nurse’s kind motherly sensibilities offset Axel’s silliness.”

Another piece on the propane situation. This one from Ken Vogel of the Lake County News Chronicle: “Kinder Morgan Energy Partners plans to terminate propane deliveries to main terminals used by Minnesota distributors in April. The Cochin pipeline system is operating as a dedicated propane system between Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, and New Hampton, Iowa. But the company plans a reversal of the pipeline to transport ‘light condensate’, a bitumen thinning agent, from Illinois to western Canada. The diluent is used to thin sour crude produced by oil sands in Alberta. Company officials said they would not reconsider the reversal project amid the current shortage.”

Thomas Content and Rick Barrett of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel write, “The price of propane was $4.15 a gallon on average this week, according to the state Division of Energy Services. The average price is twice what it was early last month, but down from last week’s peak of $4.86. … Customer’s Gas clients had prepaid contracts for fuel that wasn’t delivered, according to state officials. Friday, the company was answering its phones but did not respond to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel request for information. Another propane supplier, in Spooner, also appeared to be in trouble. WK Appliance & Propane Co. sent a letter to customers saying it couldn’t get propane and thus its customer contracts were ‘null and void’ … .”

And another Wisconsin story… The AP reports, “The owner of a brewpub in New Brighton is frustrated with a Minnesota law that says he can’t sell his craft beer on store shelves — so he’s decided to build a new brewery across the border in Wisconsin. John Moore, owner of Barley John’s Brew Pub, plans to break ground this spring on a new 10,000-barrel brewery in New Richmond, Wis., and hopes to start selling beer in the fall.”

And purely by coincidence we have this story by the Strib’s Kevin Giles: “ … Chris Polfus has called New Richmond, Wis., home, he’s watched with amazement as the city has slowly doubled, then more than quadrupled in size. But he predicts that growth will be nothing compared with the boom that could develop once a new St. Croix River bridge opens in 2016. ‘At first it’s going to start out slow and then it’s going to go crazy’, said Polfus, who owns Brady’s Brewhouse in downtown New Richmond. ‘The city’s going to get bigger, it can’t help itself. New Richmond’s poised to grow’.” Well, the whole point was development, right?

Speaking of…  Neal St. Anthony of the Strib reports, “ … developers could pull another $1 billion-plus in building permits in Minneapolis this year, for a record third year in a row. And more than 70 percent of the construction value, once again, is expected to focus on expanding and renovating downtown, including the Warehouse District.”

The GleanAnd still more development, this time in Rochester. Elizabeth Baier of MPR says, “A Rochester developer bought the [CJ’s Bar] a few years ago and plans to demolish it to make way for a mixed-use, high rise development project with a hotel, apartment rentals, and upscale restaurants. The project is part of a booming real estate market in Rochester, particularly in the blocks near the Mayo Clinic’s expanding downtown campus. Mayo Clinic has launched a 20-year, $5 billion plan to remake its flagship campus. The plan includes $327 million in state aid, largely to fund improvements to public facilities in Rochester, which is expected to grow by 32,000 residents over the next 20 years.”

Also at MPR, Tim Post reports on critics who want the state to get tougher on charter schools. “Increased accountability could be on the way for Minnesota’s charter schools. But what shape that will take is going to be up for debate in the next legislative session. Critics of underperforming charter schools say state law isn’t tough enough. They’re pushing a measure that would flag poor performing charters for closure. If approved by the Legislature, it would pressure charter school authorizers, essentially the sponsors that offer funding and guidance to the schools, to close chronically underperforming charters.”

Sen. Lyle Koenen has a commentary on out-state broadband in the Morris Sun Tribune. “When broadband is simply not available, rural businesses are at a severe disadvantage; and businesses aren’t the only stakeholders. Doctors and patients, high school students and college students alike can all benefit from increased information when broadband is readily available. What we hope to gain from these conversations is an answer to the massive patchwork of coverage across the state. We are not on track to reaching our goal of connecting the entire state by 2015.” Someone has to break it to him than when it comes to public investment, broadband for every Minnesotan is no billion-dollar football palace.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/10/2014 - 08:20 am.

    re: Carmen

    Having grown up here, I remember Axel being on after school, not in the morning. Also I remember Carmen’s character not being there in the beginning, but joining the show at some point part way through its run. Someone near my age, 65, tell me if I’m wrong.

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 02/10/2014 - 09:27 am.

      I remember it

      as a morning show, something I watched before heading off to school armded with Axel’s latest:

      A birdie with a yellow bill
      Hopped upon my windowsill,
      Cocked his shining eye and said:


    • Submitted by Rich Crose on 02/10/2014 - 10:05 am.

      Afternoon, I think

      She lived on my afternoon paper route. I would watch her on TV then deliver my route. She was never at home. I was always afraid to think that someday I would have to knock on her door. What would I say to her? She was a movie star!

      • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/10/2014 - 11:56 am.

        The mystery deepens

        Online research info: I saw several contradictory bits of information: Carmen was on at the beginning vs. Carmen was on in the later years. Axel was on in the afternoon vs he was on in the morning vs he was on Saturday morning. At his peak in 1959 he was three times more popular than the nearest TC competitor, American Bandstand (an afternoon show for sure). The premier Axel show was at 5pm on Aug 5, 1954. Later Carmen was also on a show with Clancy.

        And now for a final Axel joke: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Dishes. Dishes who? Dishes me, who are you.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/10/2014 - 08:21 am.

    Re: St. Croix River bridge

    The opening of that bridge will be akin to tearing down the Berlin wall.

  3. Submitted by David Karges on 02/10/2014 - 11:45 am.

    Clancy & Carmen

    She was also on John Gallos’ very early-morning kids’ show when I moved back here in late 1976. I turned on WCCO about 6:30 a.m. expecting a newscast and ended up with Clancy & Carmen instead. I think the show was canceled shortly afterward — I can’t imagine kids getting up that early to watch.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/10/2014 - 02:34 pm.

      more on Carmen

      One online article I found today mentioned how Clancy and Carmen went off the air in ’77. WCCO was shuttng down all its kids programming. They had Clancy, Carmen and another guy on staff audition for a single spot on a kids show and the other guy won and Gallos and Carmen were let go. Sad. Those guys were pioneers and eventually the stations didn’t need/want them anymore.

  4. Submitted by JP Haeg on 02/10/2014 - 02:33 pm.

    A Carmen story

    I went to an indoor car show during the winter about twenty five years ago.
    It might have been in one of the St. Fair buildings.

    I didn’t know this, but Carmen and Clancy were going to be a side attraction to this show.
    Clancy didn’t show, but Carmen was there. She wasn’t in her nurses outfit, but I could tell it was her after all of these years.

    She was sitting at a table, and handing out signed photographs of herself. I was watching from a distance. There were four 30-35 year old guys standing right in front of her talking, and she asked it they wanted a signed photo. They were rude to her. They kind of half ignored her, and half laughed about being offered a photo by some old woman.

    I walked over to her, and told her that I wanted one of her photos. I also told her that I had grown up watching her. She smiled, proudly signed the picture, and told me “what I fine young man I had grown up to be”. Anyway, I think this made both of our days.

    RE: When she appeared on the show.
    I always heard that she was brought in to explain why Axel wasn’t there when he started getting sick. She was popular enough that they kept her on after he could no longer do the show, and she eventually was on with Clancy.


Leave a Reply