Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

You could be a model, James June 13, 2011

James and his Ford Ranger pick-up truck.

“JAMES, HAS ANYONE ever told you that you could be a model?” I asked as he leaned against the bed of his Ford Ranger pick-up truck for a quick photo shoot by me.

He didn’t really answer, which I’m to take as a “yes.”

With his all-American boy good looks, this fresh-faced Minnesota farm kid (adult, actually) could easily grace the pages of a fashion magazine, a print ad or even a television commercial.

His personality matches his boy-next-door appearance. James, not Jim or Jimmy, is down-to-earth, quiet, maybe even shy, with a playful smile and spirit.

Not that I know James all that well. He’s my niece Hillary’s boyfriend. But since my niece lives 2 ½ hours away, I haven’t spent much time with her significant other.

It was James’ Ford Ranger that caught my eye as he came barreling onto the home place (aka the farm where I grew up) during Hillary’s recent high school graduation reception. You can’t miss his truck with the stove-pipe-size exhaust pipes jutting out of the pick-up bed.

Impressed with the duo stacks, I moved in closer to check out James’ wheels. And then I discovered the redneck streak in this seemingly demure South Dakota State University agricultural engineering student.

Check out these bumper stickers:

As good an explanation as any for a dirty vehicle.

This bumper sticker doesn't reflect on James' driving skills, only his sense of humor. Don't take the message seriously, please.

Farm youth like James are typically quite adept at all things mechanical.

What do these tell you about James? Obviously he possesses a sense of humor. He’s also capable of keeping a vehicle running and confident enough to tell you.

But, wait, there’s more. His pick-up hood sports a tiger head, as in the mascot of Marshall High School, James’ alma mater. James also owns school spirit.

The tiger, Marshall High's mascot, defines the pick-up hood.

I really don’t have anything more to say about this southwestern Minnesota farm boy or his wheels, except to re-emphasize that I think James could be a model, maybe for Ford or John Deere. I wouldn’t want him to get into anything too Californian or New Yorkish so as to change his appealing rural charm.

What’s your opinion? Could/should James give modeling a shot to fund his college education? This idea is mine, not his, just to be clear.

One last shot of James' Ford Ranger pick-up truck, parked on the farm where I grew up just outside of Vesta in southwestern Minnesota.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling