Northwoods Newcomer:

A fender bender made me feel good about Cumberland
By Larry Werner


Some of my city friends have a hard time understanding why I’m happy  in a town of 2,000, after 30 years in a metropolitan area of 2.5 million.
To paraphrase poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning: “Why do I love you, Cumberland? Let me count the ways.”
Since I started writing this column almost three years ago, I’ve told you about my love of the lake outside my window, the small businesses that make our down vibrant, the arts community that adds richness to life here, the good restaurants and the people who are welcoming and caring.
One of those people reinforced my love of this town after she bumped into my car a couple weeks ago. We’ll call her Betsy, and this is what she did:
My wife Ann, who lives most of the time in the Cities because of her business, was in Cumberland the first weekend of the month for the Ole and Lena shows at the Fine Arts Center. She took my car to get some groceries at Nilssen’s. While shopping inside, she was approached by Betsy, who was looking for the owner of a Ford Escape that she had bumped into.
It was just a slight bump that was the result of not applying the parking brake, but she was determined to find the owner and provide her name, number and insurance information.
When Ann got home, she told me about this, and we both thought the same thing: “Can you imagine that happening in Minneapolis.” Of course not.
I’m reminded of a cartoon in which a guy is standing next to a car he damaged, writing a note that said something like:  “A bunch of people who saw me hit your car are standing around thinking I’m leaving my name and number.”
Well, Betsy didn’t just leave a note on the car: She went into the store and tracked down the owner. When Ann identified herself, Betsy recognized the name, and told Ann she went to prom with our son-in-law, Dan Wistrcill, many years ago.
The damage was a broken turn signal. After taking it to my garage in the Cities, where I was told they couldn’t do the repair, I stopped in at Don Johnson Motors when I got back to Cumberland. There, I told the story to Kerry Stetler who, of course, went to school with Betsy and Dan.
Kerry provided me a loaner car. The turn signal was repaired. And Kerry let Betsy know how much she owed.
I told my son-in-law about my small-town encounter with a good Samaritan from his past. Dan wasn’t surprised, of course, because he grew up here.
Larry Werner’s email is




Cumberland Advocate

375 2nd Ave, PO Box 637
Cumberland, WI 54829
Phone: (715) 822-4469
Hours:  8:30 AM–4:30 PM M-F