Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The endearing smiley face June 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:39 AM
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I URGED HIM to speed up, to catch up to that yellow jeep ahead of us.

“I want to take a picture,” I explained, and my husband obliged although he thought me a bit crazy.

And maybe I am sometimes. But that canary yellow jeep, the single visual jolt of brightness on yet another recent dreary weekend, tripped something in my brain.

If you live in Minnesota, I expect you’ll understand. I mean, honestly, weren’t you tired of all the cold and rain and gloom on the heels of a long and snowy winter? (Remind me of that tomorrow when the temperature is predicted to reach 100 degrees or higher.)

So, given that context, the yellow jeep with the smiley face wheel cover made me smile as we traveled on U.S. Highway 14 between Mankato and Eagle Lake recently.

Smiley faces, no matter where I spot them, always increase my happiness quotient.

My appreciation of smiley faces stretches back further than I’d like to admit these days. This happiness symbol popped up everywhere when I was in high school, which would be, yes, the 1970s. Oh, how I wish I still had my smiley face bulletin board and my smiley face button.

So there, that should explain why I wanted to photograph the yellow jeep on a drizzly Saturday afternoon along a Minnesota highway. The smiley face represents a link to my past, to those turbulent teen years when I needed a bright smile as much then as I sometimes still need one some four decades later.

I can’t think of another symbol with such upbeat universal appeal. Can you?

Do you, like me, have fond memories of the smiley face? I’d like to hear.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


6 Responses to “The endearing smiley face”

  1. Bernie Says:

    What fun! I can see what a dreary day it was. That smile must have brightened up a dull day.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Up until the past several days, clouds and rain have mostly defined our weather in Minnesota. Last week we got six inches of rain in Faribault. In ONE week. You can imagine the ponds of water in fields.

      I took the smiley face photos on the day we toured the sculptures and sidewalk poetry in Mankato. Those were day brighteners too. But the smiley face really made me smile.

  2. I do! I do! My little brothers used to have a poster that said “Have A….” followed by a slew of little circular faces showing all sorts of different emotions and then “….day” at the bottom. So they started calling any little round face a “Have a day Guy”. I love Have A Day Guys. They are chock full of all sorts of nostalgia 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for sharing your memory. So, which emotion was most often displayed? I suppose if you picked on your brothers, the face would be a frown. Oh, yeah, you probably did not pick on your brothers, right?

  3. Amy Says:

    Because our drives are typically not short, we need to find ways to entertain ourselves in the car. The Alphabet Game (finding words on the signs from each letter of the alphabet) is only fun for so long. So we watch for peculiarities, especially with license plates. We will sometimes try to make phrases with the words and numbers on the plates, or just pay attention to where they are from. The best was when we were moving from Minnesota to Indiana and we saw a truck from Michigan, pulling a trailer from Ohio, with a truck on the trailer from Pennsylvania! Figure that one out 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, I remember playing these types of road games as a child when our family made its annual trip to “the Cities” to visit relatives. We weren’t as creative as you two, though. However, the license plate game kept us six kids entertained enough that we didn’t drive Mom, Dad and Grandpa crazy. Yeah, nine of us packed into a big old car. And no seatbelts. Shudder. I digress. Thanks for sharing your odd roadway discovery.

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