Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An April Fool’s legend from the Minnesota northwoods April 1, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 1:30 PM
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THIS MORNING MY SISTER EMAILED, advising me to get outside ASAP because the cows were out.

I typed a hurried response: “But the bus is coming. And your toast is burning!”

Neither Lanae or I live on farms any more. So what was going on?

Lanae, unlike me, remembered today is April Fool’s Day. And those three falsehoods were the lame jokes we tried to pull on our siblings every April 1 while growing up on a southwestern Minnesota dairy and crop farm.

With the help of enthusiastic preteens, we decorated the park shelter and a screened tent with bells and crepe paper in honor of Jeff and Janet's 20th wedding anniversary.

In July 2010, the annual Kletscher family reunion was themed to celebrate Jeff and Janet’s 20th wedding anniversary. We decorated for the anniversary, ate anniversary cake, showered Jeff (and the absent Janet) with gifts and held a bridesmaid dress judging contest. Some of the dresses were modeled by attendees. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2010.

Those pranks are mere child’s play compared to the joke my cousin Jeff, who celebrates his 25th wedding anniversary today, pulled off on his unsuspecting parents in 1990. He mailed an announcement of his marriage to Janet at the St. Louis County Courthouse. It was a private affair with only Janet’s daughters, Heidi and Amber, attending.

As the story goes, my Uncle Harold paled upon reading the news. And Aunt Marilyn, in shock, picked up the phone and dialed her daughter, who knew nothing of Janet. Marilyn, already formulating a wedding reception in her mind, called the northern Minnesota school where Jeff taught math. Jeff was summoned to the principal’s office.

When he was finally able to calm down his stunned mother, he advised her to look at the back of the card. There he had typed: rehcstelk ffej morf gniteerg sloof lirpa na.

Backwards, the words revealed: an april fools greeting from jeff kletscher.

There was no northwoods bride, no marriage, not even a girlfriend.

He had just created the stuff of family lore and legend.

My cousin Dawn, with the help of daughter Megan, made two beautiful anniversary cakes for her brother. My Uncle Wally and Aunt Janice made and decorated the less attractive cake with the beanie baby bears.

Cakes served at Jeff and Janet’s 20th wedding anniversary celebration in 2010. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2010.

After receiving my sister’s email this morning, I emailed my bachelor cousin to wish him and Janet a happy anniversary and inquired as to how many years they had been married.

“Twenty-five wonderful years!!!,” Jeff enthused. “I believe we made silver.”

The cake topper from Jeanne and Arnie's wedding with golden anniversary wishes 50 years later.

This wedding cake topper was displayed at a recent golden wedding anniversary. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

No, Jeff, I believe you made gold.

#

FYI: Click here to read my blog post about the 2010 Kletscher family reunion where we celebrated Jeff and Janet’s 20th anniversary.

Can you top this April Fool’s prank?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Part II: Preserving memories in West Concord

WHAT DEFINES A MUSEUM?

Collections? History? Preserving the past?

All three fit the definition. Yet, it is memories which make a museum personal.

A commemorative plate from West Concord.

A commemorative plate from the small southeastern Minnesota farming community of West Concord.

The West Concord Historical Society, housed in a former school, boasts an incredible museum that showcases West Concord area history. I didn’t grow up here. I don’t live here. Yet, I connected.

Join me on a photo tour showing snippets of what this museum holds.

IN THE HERITAGE ROOM:

I expect many visitors would image Sunday dinner at Grandma's house when viewing this scene.

I expect many visitors will remember Sunday chicken dinners or holidays at Grandma’s house when viewing this scene.

IN THE CARDINAL ROOM:

The school was once home to the West Concord school Cardinals. An entire classroom is devoted to all things Cardinal. this proves a popular place during class reunions.

The school was once home to the West Concord Cardinals. An entire classroom is devoted to Cardinals memorabilia. This exhibit proves a popular place to tour during West Concord High School class reunions. The school closed in 1991. West Concord is now part of Triton Public Schools where the mascot is a cobra.

A cheerleading uniform.

A cheerleading uniform.

A majestic band uniform preserved.

A majestic band uniform displayed along with school trophies.

I was thrilled to find a collection of school yearbooks.

I was thrilled to find a collection of school yearbooks.

Wearing Cardinal pride.

Wearing Cardinal pride.

IN THE FARMERS & MERCHANTS ROOM:

From a local beauty shop.

From a local beauty shop.

IN THE VETERANS ROOM:

Between two military uniforms, I shot this view of a 48-star American flag.

Between military uniforms, I shot this view of a 48-star American flag.

Books and documents are also displayed in The Veterans Room.

Books and documents are also displayed in The Veterans Room.

IN THE SHELL ROOM:

Old radiators in The Shell Room, which features a collection of shells donated by Burton Goddard and Miriam Goddard.

Old radiators in The Shell Room, which features a collection of shells donated by West Concord alumni Burton Goddard and Miriam Goddard.

IN THE 50’s & 60’s ROOM:

Feelin' groovy...a snippet of 1960s art.

Feelin’ groovy…a snippet of 1960s art.

A fondue pot. I remember using a fondue pot in my high school home economics class.

I remember using a fondue pot in my high school home economics class in the 1970s.

Sit a spell in this 60s corner or lose some inches on that exercise equipment, left.

Sit a spell in this 60s corner or lose some inches on that exercise equipment, left. Well, consider it, but don’t actually do it.

A 1950s place setting. I collection vintage tablecloths.

A 1950s place setting. I collect vintage tablecloths.

IN THE FASHION ROOM:

Clothing and sewing equipment from times past suggests how far a generation or two have come.

Clothing and sewing equipment span generations in The Fashion Room.

IN THE HALLWAY:

An old radiator and old windows.

An old radiator and old windows show the character of this aged former school.

IN THE MARY DELZER ROOM:

Remember making these silhouettes from black construction paper? I hadn't thought about these in decades. Janis Ray had her students create these profiles each year as a gift to their parents.

Remember making these silhouettes from black construction paper? I hadn’t thought about these in decades. Former educator and WCHS director Janis Ray had her elementary aged students create these profiles each year as a gift to their parents. These are displayed in a room dedicated to education and in which Janis taught.

IN GRANDMA’S ATTIC:

In Grandma's Attic you can buy garage sale type items, like these lamps, with proceeds benefiting the WCHS.

In Grandma’s Attic you can buy garage sale type items, like these lamps, with proceeds benefiting the WCHS. I really should have purchased the two matching lamps. Aren’t they fabulous?

IN THE OFFICE:

A recent donation awaits research and placement.

A recent donation awaits research and placement.

School letters left-over from West Concord High School are available for purchase.

School letters and numbers left over from West Concord High School are available for purchase. West Concord is now part of Triton Public Schools (West Concord, Dodge Center and Claremont). West Concord Public Charter School, however, is open in the community.

FYI: If you missed my first post on the West Concord Historical Society museum, click here. Today’s post is the second in a three-part series.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling