Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Oh, the interesting topics you’ll find in small town newspapers…of bullets, burgers & babies… August 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:51 AM
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SMALL TOWN NEWSPAPERS make for some interesting reading. Stories can get downright personal and to the point.

For example, I found a gem last week online at The Redwood Falls Gazette, a twice-a-week newspaper published in Redwood County in southwestern Minnesota. It’s the newspaper I grew up reading.

The Redwood Falls Gazette editor Troy Krause, right, interviews Todd Bol, co-founder of the Little Free Library in Vesta in early July. Bol gave a LFL to my hometown and installed it at the Vesta Cafe.

In the “Backward Glance” section of the newspaper, under 1987—25 years ago, this tidbit of information was published:

In the listings of the Redwood County 4-H county fair champions, Troy Krause of the Loyal Scotties was overall grand champion in flower gardens, while Kelly Zwaschka of the Vesta Vikings won champion child development.

(Note: Troy is editor of the Redwood Gazette, while wife Kelly gave birth to their seventh child, Gideon, this week. Congrats from the Gazette staff!)

How’s that for a birth announcement? Obviously Kelly’s interest in child development, even as a 4-Her, was a clear indicator of her future. As for Todd, I believe flower gardening could be connected to creativity/writing.

You’ll also find a brief about a game warden, shot through the head in 1937 by another game warden who mistook him for a bear. That’s listed in the 50 years ago section of “Backward Glances.” So, yes, apparently Merle Shields survived the incident as he was celebrating his 20th year as a Redwood County game warden in 1962. (BTW, since writing this post, I discovered that The Gazette has upgraded its website and the “Backward Glance” I reference here cannot be found, or I couldn’t find it.)

The third piece of interest was published in last week’s The Gaylord Hub, where I worked for two years as a news reporter and photographer right out of college. Avery Grochow, past president of The Gaylord Chamber of Commerce, penned a letter to the editor which I am certain is the current coffee shop talk of Gaylord.

I’ll summarize parts of his lengthy, six-paragraph letter and quote directly when needed. Grochow begins:

We, as the chamber board, are constantly trying to do our best for our community and are constantly being criticized by some for our decisions.

Apparently locals were grumbling about the food—who supplied it and how it tasted—at the community’s annual Eggstravaganza summer festival. New volunteers, replaced Dewey (whoever that is; my words here, not Avery’s), who “wanted a year off from all the arguments.” They stepped up and worked through a new bidding process for the supplies, awarding the bid to the lowest bidder.

Grochow continues:

We have had comments both ways about the supplying of hamburger. Some have criticized us in the past because the hamburger was too spicy, that they would rather have plain burgers, and we are now being criticized that we are having plain burgers and not spiced burgers.

No matter what we do as volunteers and directors for the Chamber, we can’t please everyone…We did what we thought was fair to everyone by taking bids on everything and stand by our decision.

Now, just imagine how difficult it must have been for Grochow to write this letter. Not an easy thing to do when you live in a small town like Gaylord where everyone’s lives are intertwined.

I give Grochow credit for having the guts to publicly voice his opinion in print. He doesn’t just vent, though. He offers a solution. And therein lies the point best taken by those who read his letter.

…if anyone has better ideas for us, we still are short of directors and could use all the help we can get to make our Chamber even more successful. We also have openings on the board so you can be part of the decision making, instead of just always making bad comments because you don’t like what we did. Remember, we, as the Chamber Board of Directors, are just volunteers trying to make Gaylord a better place to live and hopefully to have a great celebration.

Those closing remarks are words we could all heed because I expect you, like me, are guilty of occasional grumbling and complaining.

 

5 Responses to “Oh, the interesting topics you’ll find in small town newspapers…of bullets, burgers & babies…”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Small town publications are so much fun to read. Upon first arriving in the Houston (MN) area, back in ’74, we quickly realized the importance of securing a copy of the weekly paper. Each little “neighborhood” had its contributor and everything, from what grades were achieved on the children’s report cards to “who poured” on a specific afternoon coffee/tea gathering, was carefully chronicled for ‘historical’ purposes (or ‘fodder’ for the local cafes!). Such innocent days!!! Great post….many memories!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, yes, I know exactly what you mean. My mom would get a phone call every Monday morning asking whether she had any news to share, such as her daughter Audrey and her family visiting for the weekend from Faribault. Small town newspapers most assuredly offer interesting reading. I worked for a few, but never wrote “gossip” columns.


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