Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Celebrating an enduring love of 50 years July 30, 2014

THE PHOTO FROM FIFTY YEARS ago is priceless. Six cousins, all nieces of the groom, step ladder lined up on the steep steps of Rock Dell Lutheran Church, rural Belview, Minnesota.

I'm third from the top.

I’m third from the top in this 50-year-old image tucked into a photo album.

I wish I remembered that moment when newlyweds, Merlin and Iylene Kletscher, descended the stairs. But I was only eight then, snugged between cousins, on that beautiful early November day in 1964. Or at least I assume the weather was unseasonably pleasant as we’re dressed like it’s summer.

Historic Odeon Hall in Belview.

Historic Odeon Hall in Belview.

Fast forward fifty years and I’m back in Belview, this time at Odeon Hall, an historic 1901 community center next to city hall and the fire department and within a block of my aunt and uncle’s home. They recently moved back to Iylene’s hometown.

The crowd dwindles as the 50th anniversary party comes to a close.

The crowd dwindles as the 50th anniversary party comes to a close. The honored couple are to the left front.

I am there with my husband and hundreds of others celebrating the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary several months early.

Merlin and Iylene's wedding photo served as a table decoration.

Merlin and Iylene’s wedding photo served as a table decoration.

And I wonder, as I reconnect with cousins and other aunts and uncles, how fifty years have passed.

Dyed bridesmaid's shoes from the November 7, 1964, wedding.

Dyed bridesmaid’s shoes from the November 7, 1964, wedding.

It seems only yesterday I was an 8-year-old wearing cat eye glasses, hair pulled back with a barrette, dressed in my Sunday best button back green corduroy jumper and white blouse perched on those steps in my shiny black patent leather shoes.

Iylene's wedding dress (which she sewed) and veil and Merlin's suit.

Iylene’s wedding dress (which she sewed) and veil and Merlin’s suit.


Cake to celebrate 50 years of marriage.

Cake to celebrate 50 years of marriage.

But yesterday was fifty years ago, when high school sweethearts Merlin, 19, and Iylene, 20, pledged their love to one another before family and friends in a small country church. Within six years, they had four children.

Merlin and Iylene today.

Merlin and Iylene today.

What a blessing to have a half century together.

A little lunch was served at the anniversary party.

A little lunch was served at the anniversary party.

Fifty years are worth celebrating.

Guests linger as the party ends.

Guests linger as the party ends.

And I was delighted to be there, as I was on November 7, 1964, to congratulate my aunt and uncle, this time fully appreciating the depth of their love for one another.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “Celebrating an enduring love of 50 years”

  1. Thread crazy Says:

    Life is grand to have 50 years together. Their smiles tell it all!

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Congrats to Merlin and Iylene—what a lovely party that looks like!!!! I can hear the chatter and the laughter and can almost taste that cake!

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    That is an impressive milestone. Congrats to the happy couple.

  4. Ken Wedding Says:

    Congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple from an RFHS classmate.

  5. DeLores Says:

    Nice write up and pictures Audrey. It was a nice day for the party. Lots of people
    were there to congratulate Merlin and Iylene! They are a very nice couple.

  6. WOW – 50 years together and still very much in LOVE – How Sweet is that! I hope to hit that milestone and have hit one already – 10 years. How does it go by so fast??? Beautiful Post – thanks so much for sharing. Happy Hump Day!

  7. Jon Niemann Says:

    Congrats Merlin and Iylene – what a great milestone!

  8. Jackie Says:

    Awww this is great….50 years, your aunt & uncle look so young and healthy. How fun for you to be able to attend this momentous event, celebrating at the beginning of their journey and now 50 years later.

    • Merlin and Iylene have always been very physically active–with square dancing up until recently, biking, hiking, walking, etc. To their recreational credit, they have visited and hiked in all of Minnesota’s state parks.

      Yes, it’s great to be back now as an adult celebrating their marriage.

  9. Marilyn von Mosch Schiffner Says:

    Congratulations Merlin and Iylene! You both look fantastic. . . marriage certainly agrees with you.

  10. Merlin Kletscher Says:

    Thanks for the congrats to our RFHS classmates, Ken, Jon & Marilyn

  11. hotlyspiced Says:

    What a special day. I love how she still has her wedding dress and veil and how these were on display at the celebration. I love the bridesmaid shoes – gorgeous! A few years ago we organised a similar event for my in-laws ‘golden’ (as they called it). These milestones are definitely worth celebrating xx

  12. Mary Jane Laughlin McConnell Says:

    So enjoyed this-how fortunate the two of you are to have each other for 50 years. Dated Him briefly back in our junior year of High School. And know what a neat man he is! And what a neat couple you are-great pics. Thanks Mary Jane Laughlin McConnell

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