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


13 Responses to “An April Fool’s legend from the Minnesota northwoods”

  1. That is the funniest thing I have heard. He’d fit in my family perfectly.

  2. Ha! – Happy April Fool’s Day and Hump Day! I am so not a prankster and do not like being pranked or punked either. Stay Safe Out There Today 🙂

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    I doubt if I could top that. In my family, it would not be safe if I did. 🙂

  4. You can talk about silver and gold, but I think he had a whole lot of brass..

  5. Sounds like you have a very fun family.

    • I do. I love my extended family of many aunts, uncles and cousins. We lived in the same geographical area when I was growing up and celebrated birthdays and anniversaries together and visited often. Thus our connection is strong.

      Every July we gather at the city park in my hometown for a big reunion that begins around the camp fire on Saturday evening. Sunday is the annual potluck and visiting. Five years ago we added activities, themed the first year to my cousin Jeff’s wedding anniversary. The afternoon of activities were an effort to keep the younger family members attending. It also mixes up the generations as teams are formed for the various competitions. There’s much laughter and building of new memories. It’s great.

  6. I love that prank your cousin played! And I would have strangled my son had he done the same. Just sayin’.

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