Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Gathering photos & stories at a Faribault car show June 17, 2013

An idyllic car show setting in Faribault's TeePee Tonka Park.

An idyllic car show setting in Faribault’s TeePee Tonka Park.

SUNDAY MARKED A PERFECT summer-like day here in southeastern Minnesota, ideal for strolling the Faribault Heritage Days Car Show in TeePee Tonka Park.

I love the tree-lined setting along the banks of the Straight River where, on this afternoon, wisps of cottonwood tree seed fluff wafted through the air while I meandered among the vintage vehicles. Fifties music set a period mood.

The truck marking the show.

The truck marking the show.

Although my knowledge of cars is limited, my automotive machinist husband is like a walking encyclopedia of information. He approaches car shows from an automotive perspective. I view them from photographic and storytelling angles.

This ambulance transported patients to the  Tracy Hospital and to other hospitals, including in Sioux Falls, S.D.

This ambulance transported patients to the Tracy Hospital and to other hospitals, including in Sioux Falls, S.D.

For example, why would someone like Kurt Halverson of Owatonna own a 1977 ambulance used by the City of Tracy from 1981-1989 and prior to that, Fergus Falls?

The words that caught my attention on this 1977 ambulance.

The words that caught my attention on this 1977 ambulance. Kurt hopes to drive the ambulance in Tracy’s annual community celebration, Boxcar Days, in September. He recently received an old Tracy ambulance jacket from the Rev. Homer Dobson,pastor at his grandfather’s church.

I was drawn to this particular vehicle by the words “Tracy Ambulance” posted on side windows. (I wrote about Tracy, 25 miles from my hometown, last week on the 45th anniversary of a killer tornado there on June 13, 1968. Click here and then click here to read those posts.)

Kurt, a former EMT, always wanted to own an ambulance. When the Tracy emergency vehicle came up for sale, he jumped at the chance to purchase it. His grandpa lived in the Tracy area, so he knows this small town in southwestern Minnesota well. Owning Tracy’s ambulance is a sentimental connection, he says.

Besides that, this particular ambulance fits into a 7-foot standard garage.

A peek inside Kurt's ambulance. At one time the funeral home in Tracy, like those in many small towns, provided ambulance service.

A peek inside Kurt’s ambulance. At one time the funeral home in Tracy, like those in many small towns, provided ambulance service. Kurt belongs to The Professional Car Society, Northland Chapter.

His geographic familiarity with the Tracy area surprised me. I find few people around here who know towns west of Mankato. We instantly connected as we talked about Tracy and he praised Tracy native Scott Thoma’s book, Out of the Blue, about the killer F5 tornado.

Our connection, though, extended beyond Tracy. Turns out Kurt attended Waseca High School with my niece, Tara, and knows my sister, Lanae. Small world.

For me, these car shows are always more about the stories than about the cars…

BONUS PHOTOS (with more to come in a future post):

a 1930s Ford owned, if I remember correctly, by Kurt's father-in-law.

A 1930s Ford owned, if I remember correctly, by Kurt’s father-in-law.

Because I like to photograph details...

Because I like to photograph details…

On the front of a Road Runner car.

On the front of a Road Runner car.

Lots of trophies to be awarded.

Lots of trophies to be awarded.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling