Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A Farm Country Thanksgiving November 24, 2010

The third book in the Farm Country series.

WHENEVER I OPEN one of Lakeville author Gordon Fredrickson’s books, I feel like I’m stepping back in time to my childhood on a southwestern Minnesota dairy farm.

I’m thankful for Fredrickson, who understands the value in preserving the history of small family farms. Because he was raised on a Scott County dairy farm and farmed for awhile as an adult with his wife, Nancy, Fredrickson gets his 1950s era farm stories right.

Last night I snuggled up in the recliner with his latest children’s picture book, A Farm Country Thanksgiving. I thought it would be a fairly quick read, but I was wrong.

I didn’t whiz through this story told from the viewpoint of 10-year-old farm boy Jimmy. Rather, I savored every rhyming word by Fredrickson and every detailed illustration by Michaelin Otis.

I was the one sledding down the hill. I was the one with snow stuffed down my neck by my older brother. I was pitching silage down the silo chute, eating banana-filled Jell-O, sitting at the kids’ table on Thanksgiving…

If you grew up on a farm in the 1950s and 1960s, you absolutely must read this book and Fredrickson’s other Farm Country series stories about Halloween and Christmas. He’s also published three If I Were a Farmer books.

I guarantee that you will feel all warm and fuzzy and nostalgic and want to dig out the old photo albums or reminisce with your siblings.

I noticed the ear flapper caps, the buckle overshoes, the checkerboard ringed silo (just like the one on my childhood farm), the old runner sled—book illustrations that are as accurate as photographs. The only difference: My albums hold black-and-white snapshots.

Fredrickson captures the essence of family, of hard work, of rural life. He understands that these are worth preserving. But his efforts to save our rural heritage extend beyond his books. This writer travels across Minnesota, and sometimes out of state, presenting his message to school children, senior citizens and others. He dresses the part of a 1950s farmer in bib overalls, brings farm props, talks and reads from his books.

I will tell you too that Fredrickson and his wife, Nancy, are as genuine and kind-hearted and as down-to-earth good as they come. My husband and I lunched with the couple this past summer. Although we had never met before then, having corresponded only via e-mail, I felt as comfortable with the Fredricksons as if I had known them for years. They are truly my kind of without pretenses folks.

 

I snapped this image of the Fredricksons after lunching with them in August.

I must also point out to you that Fredrickson gives me a plug on the back cover of his Thanksgiving book. He has pulled a quote from a book review I wrote. But that has absolutely nothing to do with the praise I am directing toward him here. He has earned his praise by writing these books, complete with glossaries (after I suggested a glossary), that forever preserve life on the family farm.

I thank him for taking on this project with a passion rooted deep in the land.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Book cover image courtesy of Gordon Fredrickson

 

4 Responses to “A Farm Country Thanksgiving”

  1. Gordon Says:

    Thanks for your comments, Audrey. I am glad that you enjoyed the book, and I am also happy to report that my shows which include performing the story have been received well at senior centers and elementary schools. Everyone thinks the glossary is a great idea (thanks to you for suggesting it). People like to see their life’s activities accurately portrayed, I think, and they like to check out the differences in farm procedures. Seniors will always explain, “Well, we used to do it this way…” I love to listen to their stories after I do a show.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You’re welcome, Gordon. I’ve enjoyed all of your books, which are unlike any I’ve seen on the market. You clearly know your topic and possess a passion for writing, thus preserving this important part of our heritage and history.

  2. Audrey, Thanks for the kind words. I must praise you on your great photography skills – I don’t look too bad in that picture. Yes, it was so nice to sit down and talk face-to-face. We need to do that again but I guess it will be a while before we can comfortably sit outside to eat! Thanks again.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You and Gordon make a fine-looking couple and I do think the image turned out quite well. I know how much you contribute to the success of these books, too, Nancy. You’re right there fine-tuning the art, promoting, selling and carting books and equipment at presentations.

      Yes, I expect many months will pass before we can again enjoy an outdoor meal together. But I’ll settle for an indoor meal sometime after the holidays.


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