Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Place it near a cornfield and they will come, or something like that July 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:09 AM
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“IF WE DON’T FIND a bathroom soon, I’m just going to go in a cornfield.”

Such prophetic words I pronounced as my husband and I recently entered the burg of Bellechester, population 172, mostly in Goodhue County, partly in Wabasha County, in southeastern Minnesota.

Honestly, it isn’t like I haven’t peed in a cornfield. I detasseled corn in the 1970s; I’ve squatted between corn rows.

But I’m not exactly a teen any more and the idea of walking into a cornfield on a scorching summer morning to pee didn’t appeal to me.

So, after asking a local where I could find a public restroom in Bellechester and being told there were none and we’d need to drive 12 miles to Lake City, the cornfield option seemed a very real possibility.

Not quite believing the man, though, my husband directed our van toward Bellechester’s one-block business district. Spotting the Bellechester Tavern and the Bellechester American Legion, I figured I’d dash inside one or the other and we’d be on our way.

This former bank is home to the Bellechester American Legion. Yes, I took time to photograph the Legion and the tavern even though I really, really had to go. I love old buildings, what can I say?

Look at the gorgeous architectural detail on the former bank. Yes, I know, I really should be moving along.

But wait, one more photo. Look at this faded signage on the side of the Legion.

Well, as long as I’m taking pictures, I may as well show you the bar I wished was open.

As luck would have it, the tavern and the Legion were closed. I considered the busy repair shop on the corner, for like two seconds. There’s something about walking into a garage full of men that left me crossing my legs (figuratively speaking) and nearly sprinting the other direction.

And that direction would be toward the porta potty which my kind, kind husband spotted way over yonder on the far end of a park, by the ball diamond and next to…the cornfield.

As close to a cornfield as it could be without being “in” the cornfield.

I started heading that way until my thoughtful spouse suggested we drive over there since it was too far to walk in the heat of the morning. That worked for me.

Around the corner and down a gravel road he drove to the edge of the cornfield. I handed my camera to him (I always have my camera out) and nearly rocketed out the door and into the porta potty next to the cornfield.

When I flung open the outhouse door while simultaneously buckling my belt (Hey, would you stay inside a porta potty any longer than you had to?), I realized I had made a major mistake.

After stepping out of the porta potty and before realizing the paparazzi was snapping pictures. I was reaching up to buckle my belt, just in case you are wondering whether I’m examining my hand.

That error would have been handing my camera over to my husband after carrying on about peeing in a cornfield. He most definitely recognized a photo op when he saw one.

And that, dear readers, is my peeing (almost) in a cornfield story and I’m sticking to it.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


25 Responses to “Place it near a cornfield and they will come, or something like that”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    HA! A likely story!!! Great pics…surprised you could hold the camera still….hehehe! The corn around here is tasseled already so would not have been a problem for you!!!!!!!!!

  2. Bernie Says:

    Real and funny!!! Those good ole detasseling days…

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I’m pretty certain detasselers have porta potties available at the ends of cornfields these days. How did the seed corn company ever get away with that, no bathrooms available for our usage? Such memories…

  3. Julie Fakler Says:

    Been there done that, the emergency corn field stop.

  4. Emily B Says:

    :)! Great story, Audrey! My students had a hard time with the lack of public (and free) bathrooms all around Europe, so I know they’d enjoy knowing that sometimes it’s just as hard to find relief in small-town Minnesota!

  5. Sara Dammann Kimm Says:

    I believe it was your lucky day! I doubt many small towns have porta potties. Ugh to the corn detasseling memory…humidity, bugs, scratches from the leaves, and pulling tassles in your sleep during the afternoon naps that followed. 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Ah, right you are. My lucky day.

      And to that detasseling I will add dew running down my arms, soaked tennis shoes and an aching back from stooping to pull suckers. And all for what, $1.25 an hour, I believe.

  6. Jackie Says:

    Been to Bellchester…not much there but appreciated your photos of the old buildings and I laughed out loud at the photo your hubby took. (I’m still smiling as I type this) I might have opted for the corn field…more room & less smell. I wouldnt even want to tell you about the places I’ve ended up going pee, I tell ya it’s getting worse the older I get!!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You are right there, sister. The older I get, the worse it is for me, too. The porta potty actually didn’t smell too bad considering how bad those things can smell. I just didn’t appreciate the lack of wet wipes. I really debated whether I should write this post and publish that photo taken by the husband. But readers like you are embracing it with laughter, which is exactly what I intended.

  7. Beth Ann Says:

    I love it and after traveling the past couple weeks and drinking lots of water to stay hydrated on hikes I can TOTALLY identify!!!! I have had a couple of close calls including one after tea tasting which gave me a very full bladder! Woo, so glad hubby caught this one—it is perfect. I always carry hand sanitizer and Kleenex in my purse…..you never know!!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      It’s reaffirming to hear from so many of my female readers that I am not alone in this “gotta find a bathroom or use a cornfield” situation. The hand sanitizer in the purse sounds like a good idea.

  8. Miranda Says:

    Ha ha now you know what it feels like to be on the other side of the camera. Way to go paparazzi Dad! 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I was expecting this comment. I didn’t even show you the “worst” of the photos he took. He clicked off three before I realized what was happening.

  9. LOL, Audrey! 🙂 Gotta love a porta potty…and the cameraman.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I gave that cameraman a hard time. I asked: “Why couldn’t you take an in-focus, good picture of Gretchen and me when we were standing posing for you? You seemed to have no problem catching me coming out of the porta potty.” Oh, we laughed and laughed over this whole entertaining experience. And to think I almost didn’t write about it.

      • Ha! I don’t get that, either – the sometimes good and sometimes awful shots that I take. I got a great one today at 55mph though – I’ll post it soon. And no, I wasn’t driving!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        I look forward to seeing that on-the-road shot.

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