Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Honoring veterans with a little R & R October 28, 2011

My father, Elvern Kletscher, left, with two of his soldier buddies in Korea.

MENTION KOREA and my thoughts automatically flip to my father, a veteran of the Korean Conflict, or Korean War, or whatever title you want to attach to that hellish war.

My dad, Elvern Kletscher, fought on the frontline in the cold, cold mountains of Korea. He killed men so close he could see the whites of their eyes. He saw a buddy blown apart in front of him, the day before Ray was to return home to the States, to Nebraska, to see his baby daughter for the first time.

Shrapnel struck my dad at Heartbreak Ridge and embedded into his neck. Just like all those awful experiences that embedded into his memory. Horrible, nightmarish memories he could never shake. Never.

So I am thinking of my dad today as I pull together this post about how the Historic Hutchinson House Bed and Breakfast in Faribault is honoring qualifying veterans by giving away a free night’s stay in the B & B’s five guest rooms on November 10.

The give-away coincides with the Faribault Community Theatre’s production of M.A.S.H., which opens tonight and continues at 7:30 p.m. October 29 and 30 and November 3, 4 and 5 and then at 2 p.m. on October 30 at the Paradise Center for the Arts.

Volunteers at the Paradise Center for the Arts promoted M.A.S.H. and served chili samples at the recent Faribault Fall Festival and Chili Cook-Off.

Tami Schluter, who co-owns the Hutchinson House B & B with her husband Doug, came up with the give-away idea after M.A.S.H. director Palmer Huff asked his cast for a way to honor veterans as part of the theatrical performance.

M.A.S.H. tells the story of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital based in South Korea during the Korean War and Tami plays the part of chief nurse, “Hot Lips” Houlihan.

The Historic Hutchinson House B & B in Faribault

The Schluters last year participated in a program among North American B & Bs offering free rooms to veterans on November 10. So it was a natural to open their 1892 Queen Anne-style Victorian home again to veterans at no cost for one night “to say thank you to all those who have served our great country,” says Tami.

Those selected for the complimentary one-night Hutchinson House R & R (with a guest), and a three-course breakfast the following morning, will come from among qualified active and retired military personnel. To qualify, registrants must attend the M.A.S.H. production at the Paradise and leave their contact information in the theater lobby drop-box. Proof of veteran status will also be requested.

Winners’ names will be drawn on Sunday, November 6.

Then, on November 10, the honored veterans and their guests will meet “Hot Lips” Houlihan, aka Tami, at her B & B.

If my dad was still alive—he died in 2003—I’d invite him to attend M.A.S.H. with me and try for that free night at the Historic Hutchinson House B & B. My Purple Heart-pinned father would have been so deserving given all he’d been through on the battlefields of Korea.

Instead, I’ll just cross my fingers and hope a Korean War veteran is among those who win the one-night get-away and awaken on 11-11-11, Veteran’s Day, to that three-course gourmet breakfast served by the Schluters.

FYI: Three other Minnesota B & Bs are participating in the B & Bs for Vets Program: Hillcrest Hide-Away B & B in Lanesboro, Deutsche Strasse B & B in New Ulm and Classic Rosewood Inn in Hastings. According to online information, rooms for vets are already filled at the Lanesboro and New Ulm B & Bs.

To check out the Historic Hutchinson House B & B, click here.

For information on the M.A.S.H. production at The Paradise Center for the Arts in downtown Faribault, click here.

TO READ A STORY I wrote about my father’s time in Korea, published in 2005 in God Answers Prayers Military Edition–True Stories from People Who Serve and Those Who Love Them, click here. This collection of military stories was compiled by Allison Bottke and published by Harvest House Publishers.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Historic Hutchinson House photo courtesy of Tami Schluter