Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Norman Bates sends a Bates Motel towel to my cousin February 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 1:07 PM

A coveted Bates Motel towel.

FOR SOME REASON my cousin Dawn, who lives in Morgan, thinks I am the mastermind behind recent correspondence she’s received from Norman Bates. He’s the proprietor of The Bates Motel in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho movie.

Yesterday, Dawn received a letter from Mr. Bates and a hand-embroidered Bates Motel towel, she tells me in an e-mail. Dawn doesn’t expound on the contents, but says she plans to reserve a room in the motel later this year. Honestly, I am surprised, even shocked, that my cousin would consider staying at a place that was the scene of a gruesome murder in a motel room shower in 1960.

Maybe Mr. Bates is offering her a good deal. I don’t know. Whatever, the reason, I’m declining Dawn’s invitation to join her and her family on a California get-away. No, thank you.

If anything, I should discourage my cousin from accepting whatever opportunity Mr. Bates is offering. Considering his past correspondence, which included a dead box elder bug, you would think Dawn would be wary. I mean, really, I think this motel owner may be psycho.

Dawn, apparently, is not concerned given the tone of her e-mail. “I love the towel that I received from the Bates Motel,” she writes. Who, in their right mind, would treasure such a gift? Dawn, I guess. She’s not sure what’s more exciting, the package she received from Norman Bates or her son’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, both of which arrived in the family mailbox yesterday. Can you imagine?

That reminds me of my relatives on my mom’s side. Many, many years ago, these extended family members began spending one week every summer, or every other summer, at a central Minnesota resort. They stayed in a rambling old house. Perhaps the place reminded them of the spacious old house where Norman Bates and his mother lived. I’m not sure. But soon enough, the resort house was dubbed “The Bates Motel.”

“What I remember is walking in the back door on our arrival and saying ‘Hi Mother, we’re back,’ and than walking by the locked room at the top of the stairs, touching it and saying, ‘Hi, Mother,’” my Aunt Dorothy tells me. “That locked room was made into a third bathroom and took away part of the fun. We also used to get letters from there.”

Dorothy doesn’t recall details of those letters or much else. Her sister, my Aunt Rae, is researching the history of the Minnesota Bates Motel and will get back to me. But I remember hearing of family Olympics competition that rewarded winners with hand-embroidered Bates Motel towels. Why covet a gold medal when you can have a towel?

I know one thing for certain. When I stayed at the Minnesota Bates Motel in 2006, I hated using the upstairs bathroom across from my bedroom, especially at night. The shower curtain there depicted a menacing hand, grasping a butcher knife, poised above the silhouette of a woman.

Dawn, do you understand now why I’m cautious about anything remotely related to Norman Bates or The Bates Motel? How could you possibly think I have anything to do with the towel and letter you received yesterday from Mr. Bates?

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Hand-stitched lettering adorns a Bates Motel towel.

Check out my December 15, 2009, post, “My cousin receives a chilling letter from The Bates Motel.”