This I Believe: Ray Savela (1997)

I’ve been pondering this question for three weeks now wondering what my topic should be. My talk is not particularly about religion but rather a few antidotes [sic] about it.

I attended Catholic Church for 38 years with my wife, Lucy, but I never joined. It took me only six years to join this church- now that’s progress.

I got along very well with the Catholics; some of the priests were dear friends. My wife nor the priests bugged me to join the Catholic Church- and I never argued religion. The main reason I didn’t join the Catholic Church was I didn’t believe in the confessional. One time, at a weak moment I told my wife if it wasn’t for the confession I might have joined the church. My wife – bless her, said, “Honey, you don’t have to confess your past.

I said if that’s the case, “Hon, let’s just hold off for a while longer.”

The big question: What am I doing in Minnesota? I must a little crazy to leave Alaska when there are so many amenities for old-timers. I get a free license plate for my car, a free lifetime fishing license, hunting license, and trapping license. There is no sales tax, no state income tax or a property tax. I receive a longevity bonus for $250 a month (no strings attached). I also receive a 10% cost of living allowance. On top of all that, I share in the oil wealth in the form of a dividend check amount to 800 to 1,000 dollars every year. The amount is determined from 5% of the interest derived from the oil revenue that’s invested for a rainy day. Every man, woman, and child in Alaska receives one of these checks. There is only one catch. When I’m gone over 90 days, I don’t receive my longevity bonus, my dividend check, or my cost of living allowance. If you’re gone over 90 days, you have to fill out a form stating the reason such as school or health or some other reason.

When I went back to Alaska in the spring after my first winter in Minnesota, I signed up for my dividend check the last day. The strictly business-type lady with quite a dour expression watched me fill in my form. While she was reading it, I watch her expression to see her reaction to my reason for being gone for 90 days. I saw twinkle in her eye and a smile transformed her dour face.

She said, “You might get it.” My reason was: I went to Minnesota to look for a wife. I tried it the next year, too, but there was a hand-written note attached to my application: “You had better look for a wife in Alaska.”

Now, why do I come to Minnesota for the winter? It’s not because of the snow, or the cold weather, or especially the salt. It’s because I fell in love – yes, in love with my old classmate, Patricia Bergh, and I also fell in love with this church – which, of course, is the people.

My final statement to the “THIS I BELIEVE” is:



(Ray then launched in a song for Pat: “Patti Oh! Patti I ben tink you’re grand…”)