Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

One of the reasons I appreciate my community of Faribault February 5, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I NEVER WANT TO TAKE my community for granted, as cliché as that sounds. But sometimes I do. We all do, I suppose.

We need to appreciate the place we call home as much as we sometimes criticize or yearn for whatever we think is better. The grass is always greener. Or so we think. Often it’s not.

A beautifully restored building a block off Central Avenue at 31 Third Street N.E. houses a restaurant and pub on the lower levels and a ballroom on the second floor.

A beautifully restored building a block off Central Avenue at 31 Third Street Northeast houses Alexander’s Supper Club and Pub 31 on the lower levels and a ballroom on the second floor.

Today I want to show you a photo snippet from downtown Faribault. These images reveal one of the reasons I value this community where I’ve lived for 31 years.

A mural, one of several in the downtown area, promotes historic Faribault.

A mural, one of several in the downtown area, promotes historic Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

My southern Minnesota city is old, historic old. Fur trader Alexander Faribault established a fur trading post here in 1834. That was 15 years before Minnesota became a Territory. The city of Faribault was platted in 1855, three years before Minnesota statehood.

Sturdy, aged buildings define most of the downtown. It’s lovely.

Situation across from the post office, this former warehouse was restored. Today it houses Alexander's Supper Club and Pub 31.

Situated across from the post office, this former warehouse is home to Alexander’s Supper Club and Pub 31.

Just up the hill you'll find the Vintage Ballroom and Suites at 129 Central Avenue North. Bernie's Grill occupies the first floor.

Just up the hill a few blocks away from Alexander’s, you’ll find the Vintage Ballroom and Suites at 129 Central Avenue North. Bernie’s Grill occupies the first floor.

Historic buildings are reflected in the windows of Studio 14 Salon and Spa at 204 Central Avenue North. The salon created a "Frozen" display for a downtown holiday decorating contest.

Historic buildings are reflected in the windows of Studio 14 Salon and Spa at 204 Central Avenue North. The salon created a “Frozen” display for a downtown holiday decorating contest, earning first place.

Grampa Al's, 28 Third Street Northwest, claims to be one of Minnesota's oldest bars.

Grampa Al’s, 28 Third Street Northwest, founded in 1929, claims to be one of Minnesota’s oldest bars. The business website says Grampa Al’s has been “serving hamburgers and cold refreshments since the end of Prohibition.”

Crafty signage suspended high in a window at The Crafty Maven hints at the crafty goodness you will find inside this historic building at

Crafty signage suspended high in a window of The Crafty Maven hints at the crafty goodness you will find inside this historic building at 212 Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Oh, the joy of building a snowman February 4, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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RECENTLY, I HELPED my great niece build a mini snowman barely higher than my knees.

I taught 5-year-old Meghan how to roll balls, then how to pack snow so the head wouldn’t topple from the body. She was a quick learner.

Next, I sent her in search of twigs for arms. She roamed a snow-covered hillside, flash of purple against brilliant white.

Then we scavenged for stones for eyes.

Beneath the sprawling bare branches of an aged oak, I plucked fallen acorns for a nose and buttons.

Not the snowman my niece and I built, but rather a gigantic snowman built by the Hoisington family, 18 Third Ave. NW in Faribault.

Not the snowman my niece and I built, but rather a gigantic snowman at 18 Third Ave. NW in Faribault.

Together, with the aid of my eldest daughter, we hodge-podged a face that smiled back at us.

I’d forgotten what simple joy lies in creating a snowman.

In the Hoisington family's Faribault yard, this snowman is sure to make you smile.

In the Hoisington family’s Faribault yard, this snowman is sure to make you smile.

Sometimes that’s all it takes to lift yourself out of the winter blues, to chase away the worries of life, to ease the stress.

To view the world through the eyes of Meghan, who found nothing more delightful than building a snowman on a Saturday afternoon was a gift.

FYI: If the gigantic snowman featured here looks familiar, it’s because last year I photographed an over-sized snowman in this same Faribault yard. Click here to view last winter’s snowman.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Forty-nine years of serving others at Faribault Lions Club Super Bowl Pancake Breakfast February 2, 2015

 

Bob Cross mixes pancake batter following his secret recipe.

Bob Cross mixes pancake batter following his secret recipe.

SNUGGED IN THE BACK of the Faribault Eagles Club kitchen, around the corner from griddles and a serving line, Bob Cross mixed pancake batter Sunday morning.

Signs advertise the event and thank sponsors.

Signs advertise the event and thank sponsors.

I expected him to shoo me away, to hesitate at sharing the secret recipe for pancakes prepared at the Faribault Lions Club 49th annual all-you-can-eat Super Bowl Pancake and Sausage Breakfast.

The secret ingredient: cake donut mix.

The secret ingredient: cake donut mix.

But Bob welcomed my questions, allowed me to take photos. And although I didn’t get the precise recipe, I have a pretty good idea now what goes into these tasty pancakes. Eggs. Oil. Water or milk (sorry, I can’t recall which). And, the secret ingredient—cake donut mix, as in a pre-mixed combination of flour, sugar, salt, whey and more used in making cake donuts. The cake donut mix adds a touch of sweetness to the pancakes, Bob says.

Ten years ago this volunteer took over pancake batter prep duties from his father-in-law, Bill Harkins. Bill’s recipe has been tweaked and perfected, and legend has it that only Bob now knows the exact recipe.

An overview of a section of the spacious dining area.

An overview of a section of the spacious dining area.

He’s obviously got it right based on number of diners. When I checked with ticket sellers at 12:15 p.m., an hour before closing, 750 people had already gone through the line in 4.75 hours.

The featured foods, pancakes and sausage.

The featured foods, pancakes and sausage.

That’s a lot of pancakes. And we’re talking near dinner plate-sized pancakes.

The volunteer on the right makes pancakes for the first time at the breakfast.

The volunteer on the left makes pancakes for the first time at the breakfast.

But this breakfast is about more than the food. It’s about continuing a 49-year Faribault Lions Club tradition. It’s about seasoned pancake breakfast volunteers frying pancakes alongside newbies. It’s about high school students serving beverages and clearing tables. As cliché as it sounds, the Lions and crew work like a well-oiled machine.

Serving up pancakes and sausage.

Serving up pancakes and sausage.

This breakfast is about working together and dining together.

One of the beneficiaries: Basic Blessings Backpack Program.

One of the beneficiaries: the Basic Blessings Backpack Program.

It’s about giving back to the community with proceeds helping those in need.

Lions Club member Otto serves sausages.

Lions Club member Otto serves sausages.

It’s about service to others, following the Lions Club motto, “We Serve.”

Friends dine together.

Friends dine together.

As I wandered about taking photos, I saw a lot of people I knew, but also many I didn’t. I felt a sense of community in my city of some 23,000, a connection that comes from living in the same geographical area and from participating in a time-honored tradition.

A snippet of the long list of volunteers.

A snippet of the long list of volunteers.

Forty-nine years. That’s a long time for one organization to continue with a breakfast.

One couple brought their own pure maple syrup to pour onto the Lions Club pancakes.

One couple brought their own pure maple syrup to pour onto the Lions Club pancakes.

This is the first year I’ve attended. I don’t especially like pancakes. But I ate three Sunday morning, proof that the Lion’s Club pancakes are deserving of their long-standing praise.

A visually-impaired volunteer reads a book in Braille while working at the breakfast. The Faribault Lions have funded many projects for the visually-impaired and were collecting used eyeglasses at the breakfast.

A visually-impaired volunteer reads a book in Braille while working at the breakfast. The Faribault Lions have funded many projects for the visually-impaired and were collecting used eyeglasses at the breakfast.

Tradition. Secret recipe. A community coming together. Lions serving.

The ticket sellers' cheat sheet.

The ticket sellers’ cheat sheet.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the Lions Club Pancake and Sausage Breakfast scores as a big win in Faribault. For forty-nine years.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Nice to see this public respect January 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:24 PM
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DO YOU LIVE in a community where motorists still pull to the side of the road out of respect for the dead and those in mourning?

I do.

Late this afternoon, as the Parker-Kohl Funeral Home hearse passed my house followed by a trail of vehicles with lights flashing, motorists driving along Willow Street, an arterial road through Faribault, pulled to the curb.

That would be drivers traveling in both directions.

In that moment, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for these folks who could have hurried along their way, but stopped instead.

Thank you. Today you make me especially proud of this community I call home.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Gold, diamonds & guns

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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WHEN THE SON WAS HOME from Boston for holiday break, my husband and I took him downtown Faribault one evening for our favorite local pizza served at the Signature Bar & Grill.

 

Faribault, Ron's Pawn Shop

 

He hopped out of the van across the street from the restaurant and promptly pulled out his cell phone, aiming it at the front window of Ron’s Pawn Shop. He was laughing.

 

Faribault, Ron's Pawn Shop window close-up

 

“Golds, diamonds and guns,” he read aloud. I paused, looked. He laughed. Again.

How often had I gone by Ron’s Pawn Shop and never really noticed the signage my college son found entertaining and amusing? Too often.

It proved an important lesson to pay more attention to that which I pass often, but don’t always see.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Minnesota Faces: Madeline January 23, 2015

PORTRAIT #4: Madeline, bearer of Christmas cake

 

Madeline, Fourth Ave. United Methodist dinner 2013

 

Sweet Madeline served Christmas cake at the 2013 Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church Community Christmas Dinner in Faribault.

I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to photograph this young volunteer draped in what I expect was a vintage apron, delivering cake on a vintage tray.

This isn’t just any old cake. It’s Poke Cake—white cake mix baked, poked with fork tines and flooded with red or green Jell-O, then topped with Cool Whip (or maybe Dream Whip) and sprinkled with red or green sugar. It’s a recipe that’s, oh, so 70s.

I purposely framed this portrait to include a section of the holiday banner, the aged door and the light switch. Those, too, are part of this portrait story from a Minnesota church basement.

This portrait is part of a new series, Minnesota Faces, featured every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

One woman’s promise to God January 6, 2015

The Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

The Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

IT STANDS STATELY and tall on the campus of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd, or, to be exact, the Eunice Shumway Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

Inside the historic sanctuary, the pews face the aisle rather than the altar.

Inside the historic sanctuary, the pews face the aisle rather than the altar.

Eunice’s mother, Augusta Shumway, pledged $20,000 to build the chapel. After construction began in June 1871, Augusta lost nearly everything in the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871. Despite her loss, Augusta fulfilled her promise, sending $15,000 in insurance payments to Bishop Henry Whipple. She later donated more monies to the school.

Looking up at the altar and the stunning stained glass windows above it.

Looking up at the altar and the stunning stained glass windows above it.

The bishop quoted his friend Augusta in his book, Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate: Being Reminiscences and Recollections of the Right Reverend Henry Benjamin Whipple:

“Bishop, I promised God to build the chapel in memory of my daughter. I owe but one debt, and that is to God. I have collected enough of insurance money to complete the building, and here it is.”

Two behind-the-altar windows up close.

Two behind-the-altar windows up close.

Wrote the bishop: It was a noble instance of woman’s faith.

Whipple summarizes well the intentions of Augusta, who only a dozen years earlier lost her 13-month-old daughter.

The bell tower spire is a Shattuck landmark.

The bell tower spire is a Shattuck landmark.

What faith. What hope. What generosity.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The arched wooden front doors present an impressive entry.

The arched wooden front doors present an impressive entry.

The exterior is tastefully and simply decorated for the holidays.

The exterior is tastefully and simply decorated for the holidays.

Outside the front door. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Outside the front door. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Just inside the doors, a creche.

Just inside the doors, a creche.

A close-up of the Holy Family shows Joseph viewing the Christ Child.

A close-up of the Holy Family shows Joseph viewing the Christ Child.

On a wall inside the entry.

On a wall inside the entry.

Beautiful stained glass above the exterior entry doors.

Beautiful stained glass above the exterior entry doors.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

 
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