Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Considering the tragedy in Boston April 15, 2013

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UP UNTIL SEVERAL HOURS AGO, I’d never heard of Patriot’s Day.

Now you can bet that I, like all Americans, will not forget the date two explosions rocked the Boston Marathon, killing two as of this writing.

As I watched news coverage this afternoon, fixated by the unfolding developments, the number of injured, or “wounded” as some newscasters labeled them, climbed. Twenty-three. Then fifty. Then one hundred.

This day, this event, this attack will forever sear itself into my memory, filed into that unforgettable dark corner of my mind next to the files of 9/11 and the 35W Bridge Collapse and Newtown and way too many other American tragedies.

On days like this, I simply want to weep. And I did.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Sweet finds in Montgomery, Part V: Pizza and Big Honza

Pizzeria 201 is located at 201 First Street South in downtown Montgomery.

Pizzeria 201, right, is located at 201 First Street South in downtown Montgomery.

SETTLED INTO A FRONT corner booth at Pizzeria 201 in downtown Montgomery, my husband and I watch the comings and goings at Franke’s Bakery as we wait for our Flamin’ Bleu pizza.

Our corner booth.

Our corner booth.

The popular Czech bakery is one busy place on a Saturday afternoon, as is the Pizzeria, 201 First Street South. After a few hours of perusing downtown shops, with an earlier stop at the bakery, we are hungry and ready to try out this recommended eatery.

Although I would have selected a pizza loaded with vegetables, I agree to the Flamin’ Bleu suggested by my not-so-veggie-lovin’ spouse.

“You do know it has celery and onions on it, don’t you?” I ask.

Although tasty, Flamin' Bleu was not quite what Randy expected. He expected chunks of bleu cheese topping the pizza. But then we are bleu cheese fanatics with award-winning bleu cheeses produced in our home community of Faribault.

Although tasty, Flamin’ Bleu was not quite what Randy expected. He envisioned chunks of bleu cheese topping the pizza. But then we are bleu cheese fanatics with award-winning bleu cheeses produced in our home community of Faribault. We have high expectations with bleu cheese.

He does, but orders anyway, drawn in by the Gorgonzola, hot buffalo sauce, buffalo chicken and bleu cheese crumble toppings. Pizzeria offers a wide variety of pizzas from the classic pepperoni to Hog Heaven, German (topped with sauerkraut) and more, plus several dessert selections. The beef and pork toppings come from a Le Sueur County family farm.

Pizzeria 201 also has occasional wine tour and beer tastings.

Pizzeria 201 also has occasional wine tour and beer tastings.

Not hungry for pizza? The restaurant also offers sandwiches, calzones, soups and salads and pasta dishes.

Pizzeria's inviting space.

Pizzeria’s inviting space.

While I snap photos, Randy orders, afterward sharing that the waitress asked whether he wanted our pizza sliced in squares or triangles. Neither of us can ever remember being asked that at a pizza place. Quite thoughtful, really.

Big Honza's Museum of Unnatural History, right behind Pizzeria 201.

Big Honza’s Museum of Unnatural History, right behind Pizzeria 201.

Also, when I inquire whether we can get into Big Honza’s Museum of Unnatural History, right next door, the waitress agrees to open up for us when we finish our pizza.

That's the carving of Big Honza Giganticzech, to the right of Pizzeria 201.

That’s the carving of Big Honza Giganticzech, to the right of Pizzeria 201.

So after eating a portion of our Flamin’ Bleu sliced in triangles and served with beverages poured in pint jars, we exit the Pizzeria and walk around the corner to view Montgomery’s version of Paul Bunyan Land. An over-sized wood carving of Big Honza Giganticzech stands next to the pizzeria.

During our self-guided tour in the unheated museum, we meander past an assortment of Big Honza oddities assembled by area resident John Grimm, owner of Hilltop Hall, Montgomery’s arts and cultural heritage center. You just have to laugh at this humorous collection of weird stuff.

A snippet of what you will see in the museum, including Big Honza's Farm Market, a nod to the local canning company.

A snippet of what you will see in the museum, including Big Honza’s Farm Market, a nod to the local canning company.

Big Honza's chair and more.

Big Honza’s chair and more.

Potty humor.

Potty humor.

On that note, this ends our tour of Montgomery. I’d encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to read my entire series of stories (April 7 to today) from this south-central Minnesota Czech community of some 3,000 known as The Kolacky Capital of the World. Also check out my archives of March 4 – 8 for previous posts from Montgomery.

The whole point of this series has been not just to showcase Montgomery. It is about highlighting small towns—anywhere. All too often we dismiss small towns or overlook them with the misconception they have nothing to offer. That is so far from the truth. Every town has businesses, venues, people and events which define it as some place special.

I challenge you to look in your backyard for those places. If you live in the big city, venture out to a rural area. If you live in a small town or medium-sized city, drive to a nearby small town you’ve never explored.

If you’ve already done this sort of thing, shoot me a comment and share those small-town gems you’ve discovered. I’d love to hear from you.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling