Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Shopping for antiques in St. Peter is like way cool March 14, 2013

IF YOU HAD PREDICTED 40 years ago that I would be poking around antique stores someday, celebrating the past, remembering the days of my youth, I would have rolled my eyes.

The mere suggestion of such behavior would rate as totally uncool.

But long ago I discovered that antiquing is, indeed, cool, if not downright groovy. Just to be clear, I categorize 1970s merchandise as collectibles, not antiques.

Patrick's on 3rd anchors the corner on the left with Diamonds in the RUST on the right. Diamonds sells merchandise from antiques to present. Love that name.

Patrick’s on 3rd (bar and restaurant) anchors the corner on the left with Diamonds in the RUST on the right. Diamonds sells merchandise from antiques to present. Love that name.

That said, when I entered the charming Diamonds in the RUST shop along Park Row Street three doors down from Patrick’s on 3rd, which I’m told makes the best burgers in St. Peter, I automatically fell in love with the place.

Diamonds in the RUST, looking toward the front of the store.

Diamonds in the RUST, looking toward the front of the store.

See how the sunlight streams through those windows and onto the floor and merchandise.

Love how the sunlight streams through those windows and onto the floor and merchandise.

Light flooding through a street-side bank of tall windows, patches of sunlight slipping across the wood floor, artfully arranged merchandise and then, that most fabulous find of all, a Joseph’s coat of many colors sweater, defined this as one happin’ place.

Seventies coming of age child that I am, my eyes connected with that multi-colored sweater like a hippie drawn to a peace symbol.

The sweater similar to one I wore in the 70s.

The sweater similar to one I wore in the 70s.

“I had a sweater just like that,” I shared with the shopkeeper, although, on closer inspection, I discovered this to be a Tommy Hilfiger replica and not exactly like the sweater I paired with my hip huggers. Oh, well, I thought, and then wondered aloud if my mom, the keeper of everything, had saved that groovy sweater from my teen years. It’s possible; I recently retrieved lime green cuffed, flared pants, with about a size 18-inch waist (was I really that tiny once?), from her basement.

Ah, how antiquing prompts memories…

I own a vintage Chinese checkers board similar to these, found at a garage sale 30 years ago.

I own a vintage Chinese checkers board similar to these, one I found at a garage sale 30 years ago.

Then I spotted two Chinese checkers boards flaunting their psychedelic hues. I always connect Chinese checkers with my farmer dad, gone 10 years now. He never had time for board games. But pull out the metal Chinese checkers game and he was right there with the rest of us gathered around the Formica kitchen table, his clumsy fingers guiding marbles into place.

I would never buy a dead (or live) pheasant, but someone might.

I would never buy a dead (or live) pheasant, but someone might.

More memories of my dad surfaced when I sighted a taxidermy pheasant perched on a slip of wood set upon that beautiful wood floor. I am not a hunter. But, as a child, I would occasionally accompany Dad on his way to the slough—a grassy waterhole long ago drained and converted to farmland—to hunt for pheasants. It wasn’t the actual act of walking the land, searching for pheasants, that appealed to me. Rather, it was the rare opportunity to be with Dad when he was not in the barn or field that drew me to the hunt. I did not understand that then. But I do now.

Pheasant glasses like this are coveted by some members of my extended family.

Pheasant glasses like this are coveted by some members of my extended family.

I didn’t purchase any of those memory items at Diamonds in the RUST, only snapped photos, including one of a set of pheasant glasses that would interest my middle brother or niece’s husband.

A snippet of downtown St. Peter, along Highway 169.

A snippet of downtown St. Peter, along busy U.S. Highway 169.

Down the block and around the corner, walking St. Peter’s main drag, I slipped into a memory lane high when my husband discovered copies of Tiger Beat magazine in another antique store. Oh, my heart. The Beatles. The Monkees.

My beloved Tiger Beat magazine.

My beloved Tiger Beat magazine.

Cousin Joyce, who was two months younger than me, but way more worldly because she had two older sisters and therefore knew about stuff like boys, green eye shadow, David Cassidy and fishnet stockings long before me, introduced me to Tiger Beat. Back in the days when relatives still “visited” each other, Joyce and I would stretch out on her bed stomach side down, knees crooked, feet rocking, paging through the pages of Tiger Beat. And for a few hours I felt like I was hip and, mostly, totally, in love.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Another 70s find in an antique store that was closing for good on the day we shopped there.

A 70s bridal gown found in an antique store that was closing for good on the day I shopped there.

Love that cobalt blue in glassware showcased at Diamonds in the RUST.

Love that cobalt blue in glassware showcased at Diamonds in the RUST.

The whimsical design of these elephant glasses (shot glasses/juice glasses?) caught my fancy at Diamonds in the RUST.

The whimsical design of these elephant glasses (shot glasses/juice glasses?) caught my fancy at Diamonds in the RUST.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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