Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Part III: Oh, the memories, the treasures uncovered in West Concord April 2, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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IT’S EASY, WHEN TOURING a museum like that run by the West Concord Historical Society, to feel overwhelmed by the volume of items displayed.

This struck me as particularly humorous: A Sacred Art calendar, Lutheran edition.

The wording on this beautiful piece of art struck me as particularly funny: A Sacred Art Calendar, Lutheran Edition.

But often certain things will imprint as particularly unique or humorous or as a reminder of something from your past.

When I nearly ran into these dangling beads inside the doorway to The 50's and 60's Room, I knew this would be my favorite themed room. It was.

When I nearly ran into these dangling beads inside the doorway to The 50’s and 60’s Room, I knew this would be my favorite themed room.

The WCHS’s museum, housed in a massive former school, contains so much stuff that you are sure to find multiple pieces of the past that pop out, no matter your age.

This Flecks beer memorabilia is displayed in the West Concord museum even though the beer was made in my community of Faribault 25 miles away.

This Flecks beer memorabilia is displayed in the West Concord museum even though the beer was made in my community of Faribault 25 miles away.

I have no personal connection to West Concord. Yet I am connected by time and by the geography of living in southeastern Minnesota.

Here are some more of my favorite finds inside the WCHS museum:

This entire former classroom is set up to look like the 1930s-early 1940s Flame Room once housed in the Concord Hotel. This space can be rented for gatherings.

This entire former classroom is set up to look like the 1930s-early 1940s Flame Room once housed in the Concord Hotel. This space can be rented for gatherings. Locals dined and danced at The Flame.

Vintage ads and graphics, like this one for pink Frigidaire appliances, always draw my attention

Vintage ads and graphics, like this one for pink Frigidaire appliances, always draw my interest.

This pink Frigidaire electric stove was purchased by Arthur and Lorraine Spreiter in about 1959 from Pirkl and Hall Appliance along Main Street in West Concord. The stove features double oven doors rather than a drop-down door. The Spreiters also purchased an upright pink refrigerator/freezer.

This pink Frigidaire electric stove was purchased by Arthur and Lorraine Spreiter in about 1959 from Pirkl and Hall Appliance along Main Street in West Concord. The stove features double oven doors rather than a drop-down door. The Spreiters also purchased an upright pink refrigerator/freezer.

I was delighted that this apron was saved and displayed in The Farmers and Merchants Room. Lumber yards were once such an important business in small towns.

I am delighted that this apron was saved and displayed in The Farmers and Merchants Room. Lumber yards were once key businesses in small towns. Most have closed, replaced by Big Box lumber sources. The apron is so representative of the personal service offered in small towns.

I collect vintage drinking glasses and once had a red spotted one. My Aunt Jeanette has a collection of these. Love.

I collect vintage drinking glasses and once had a red spotted one. My Aunt Jeanette has a collection of these. Love.

I love vintage signs and graphics. And how many Gambles stores even exist any more? This sign was found in the old West Concord Gambles store opened in about 1935 by Clarence Barwald.

I love vintage signs and graphics. And how many Gambles stores even exist any more? This sign was found in the old West Concord Gambles store opened in about 1935 by Clarence Barwald. It hangs in The Farmers & Merchants Room.

Growing up, I never was impressed by the oil-cloth covered Formica table in our kitchen. But today, well, I feel differently. My husband was especially thrilled to see this yellow table, like the one he remembers from his youth.

Growing up, I never was impressed by the oil-cloth covered Formica table in our kitchen. But today, well, I feel differently. My husband was especially thrilled to see this yellow table, like the one he remembers from his youth.

This shoe is the most colorful and memorable one I've ever seen. It's like a work of art, showcased in The Fashion Room.

This shoe is the most colorful and memorable footwear I’ve ever seen. It’s like a work of art, showcased in The Fashion Room.

One classroom is devoted to a garage sale type space called Grandma's Attic. Here you can purchase secondhand merchandise

One classroom is devoted to a garage sale type space called Grandma’s Attic. Here you can purchase secondhand merchandise with proceeds going to the museum. I purchased a Fire King bowl for $1.

FYI: Click here to read my initial post and my second post on this small town museum. Thank you for following this three-part series on this incredible collection of West Concord area history.

Here’s an upcoming event at the West Concord Historical Society, 600 West First Street, that may interest you: The Czech Area Concertina Band will perform from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 19. Admission is a free will donation.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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37 Responses to “Part III: Oh, the memories, the treasures uncovered in West Concord”

  1. Audrey, I have a set of those vintage glasses which I found in an antiques mall in Elkins, NC. My polka-dots are aqua and gold! Just served ice tea in them yesterday.

  2. Marneymae Says:

    Wow!!!
    I LOVE the fabric of (a dress?) – that’s hanging behind the beaded curtains
    So fun

  3. That old table is awesome and those polka dot glasses are really neat. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with history museums. I love them for the most delightfully obvious of reasons. I hate them because so many things that were familiar or new in my lifetime – are now history. 🙂

    I recall going through the National Museum of American History in Washington DC with my kids. Near the end of the tour, we entered the History of Computing room. The conversation went like this:

    “Gosh, I worked on that machine!”

    “Really?”

    “And that one and that one and Gosh, that one too.”

    “Did you work on that one over there?”

    “No, that is Herman Hollerith original Electric Tabulating System. It is the grand-daddy of computers and dates back to 1889.”

    “Are you sure you never worked on it?”

    • I hear you and totally understand.

      I like to tell the story of how I started my newspaper reporting career typing stories on a manual typewriter. True. By the time I moved to the Mankato Free Press, I was sending my stories in from the St. James News Bureau via a computer with a mini screen. I would dial my rotary phone and then place the receiver atop the computer and the words would transmit into the Mankato newsroom. Like magic, it worked. As for photos, my film had to be transported via someone who worked in Mankato, or something like that. I can’t recall specifics. Ah, those were the days.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        Those ancient computers with mini-screens and acoustical modems are still very popular with reporters in areas of the developing world that are far beyond cell phone coverage. They have to find a land-line to submit their stories.

        Soon we will be seeing the clunky, bar-of-soap sized cell phones that we used in the 90’s in history museums. Won’t that be a shock?

        I can’t wait to see the first iPhone resting beside them. The look on my children’s faces will be priceless.

      • I had no idea those ancient computers were still being used. But I suppose.

        My husband and I were among the last to get cell phones, which would have been perhaps four years ago. Yes, we were hold-outs. We still have our landline, although I wonder why. Only telemarketers call.

  5. That looks like a really fun place. Our formica table growing up was gray. My aunt had a much snappier red one. So many cool things — that pink stove!

  6. Beth Ann Says:

    We had the yellow formica table and the vintage aluminum (I think) jewel colored drinking glasses —those memories make me smile and these pictures do as well. I love the pink oven–that is one of a kind I think.

  7. I would love to have a pink fridge and stove 🙂 I have to tell you a funny story about my maternal grandmother and door beads. She had door beads on the guest BATHROOM, yes BATHROOM, and she could never figure out why no one would use that bathroom – DUH! – there is no door and no door means no privacy. I still crack up when I see door beads – ha! Love the beer capture too – cool!

    Happy Day – thanks again for sharing and going down memory lane 🙂

  8. Don Says:

    Wow the memories you have brought back to me through this series, what a time machine that museum is. Humm the Flame room looks almost exactly like the Hotel dinning room in Mountain Lake when I was growing up there. I would venture a guess that the table and chairs were from the same manufacturer.

    Lamperts and Gambles, yup I remember them.

    The yellow table is just like what my friends parents had. My parents had a round solid oak table with leafs to make it bigger and was given to them by my Grandfather. I sure wish I had it now!

    The fondue setting on the table, oh how I remember those “grown up” suppers. Midwest talk “supper” not dinner. Us little kids could not sit there as we might spill the hot contents.

    I have put West Concord on the list of places to visit possibly this summer! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  9. Don Says:

    Minnesota is on our to do list! Working on a plan for a road trip through Minnesota and Wisconsin for a couple of weeks, can hardly wait!

  10. Don Says:

    Yup, we have been looking at houses and property. Wife would like something on a lake or river. Lake Pepin area looks like a nice area. Still in the investigative stage.

  11. Thread crazy Says:

    I do so remember that “yellow” table; we had one when I was growing up as well as my Aunt. Those shoes are priceless – yes I remember those too and a lady at church had a pair just like them. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  12. Jackie Says:

    Love the table, reminds me of the one we had when I was very young. It so fun to revisit the past through your blog. Thanks for sharing Audrey.

  13. Sartenada Says:

    How lovely memories I enjoyed every photo studying them carefully. Thank You.

  14. hotlyspiced Says:

    I love the glasses and the pink stove! So many beautiful vintage items xx

  15. Littlesundog Says:

    Oooh, I LOVE Grandma’s Attic! You do such a great job with your photography. It really gives the reader a feel for the atmosphere!


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