Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Connecting poetry & antiques in Oronoco April 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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SOME ANTIQUE STORES are cluttered, dark, musty smelling. I suppose you can say that’s part of the character, the ambiance, the what-do-you-expect in a collection of old stuff.

This bust caught my eye.

This bust caught my eye at Antiques Oronoco.

But I prefer browsing in bright spaces where antiques and collectibles are showcased in artsy and creative ways.

Antiques Oronoco, north of Rochester, just off Highway 52.

Antiques Oronoco

That’s exactly what I discovered at Antiques Oronoco, located along West Frontage Road off U.S. Highway 52 just north of Rochester.

I expected to find Edgar Alan Poe collections beneath this perched raven. (Is this a raven?) But, instead, the books are titled "Treatment in General Medicine," "Bone/Tumors" and "Elimination Diets and Patients Allergies."

I expected to find Edgar Alan Poe’s “The Raven” beneath this raven.  But, instead, the books are titled “Treatment in General Medicine,” “Bone/Tumors” and “Elimination Diets and Patients Allergies.” Doesn’t matter. I truly like this artful way of displaying books.

A Native American sculpture.

A Native American sculpture.

A beautifully staged setting that lent an air of comfort and hominess.

A beautifully staged setting that presents comfort and hominess.

An unexpected scene as I rounded a corner.

An unexpected scene atop a vintage chest of drawers as I rounded a corner.

My eye is drawn to vignettes, merchandise staged to focus my interest. It’s in the details. The angle of a book. A cozy corner. Colors purposely grouped. The unexpected.

I was as much drawn to the art on the gravy bowl as to the writing on the edge of the aged shelving.

I was as much drawn to the art on the gravy bowl as to the writing, advertising KOOL cigarettes, on the edge of the aged shelving.

Sure, the standard shelving of merchandise exists at Antiques Oronoco. But there’s a visual orderliness and poetry in between.

A sign propped on an antique bike directs motorists to Antiques Oronoco.

A sign propped on an antique bike directs motorists to Antiques Oronoco.

I asked the owner for permission to photograph and for a business card. She handed me her card and I recognized her name, Yvonne Cariveau, a duplicate name for her daughter Yvonne Cariveau, an accomplished poet and enthuser of all things poetry (ie. Mankato Poetry Walk & Ride and Image & the Word) whom I know from Mankato.

As you often hear, it’s a small world.

The table is set as if for a special family dinner.

The table is set as if for a special family dinner.

On this Saturday, an unplanned stop at Oronoco Antiques reminded me that poetry is about more than words. It’s about connections and a friendly, welcoming smile. It’s about family. It’s about the ability to embrace each day, even after a tragic loss. Yvonne’s husband (the younger Yvonne’s father) died in a foggy December morning crash when another vehicle ran a stop sign at a rural Wisconsin intersection and slammed into Gordy and Yvonne Cariveau’s van.

One of Gordy Cariveau's favorite finds, and old scale which weighs accurate. According to charts on the scale, a 5'11" man should weight 170 pounds, for example. And a 5'5" woman, 132 pounds.

One of Gordy Cariveau’s favorite finds, an old scale which still weighs accurate today, according to Yvonnne. Charts on the scale claim a 5’11” man should weigh 170 pounds, for example. And a 5’5″ woman, 132 pounds.

I hugged the elder Yvonne the afternoon of my visit as she worked with family to stage and photograph items in her antique store. She possesses a remarkable strength and grace. And that, too, is poetry.

FYI: April is National Poetry Month, a celebration of all things poetry. Seek out poetry in your daily life. It is everywhere. In a blooming crocus, in a baby’s smile, in asparagus clipped from your backyard patch, in a cardinal’s call, in the words you type…

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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18 Responses to “Connecting poetry & antiques in Oronoco”

  1. Almost Iowa Says:

    My wife loves antique stores. I hate them. She will vanish into them for hours on end. I rarely get beyond the door before my nose starts running and my eyes begin to sting; this happens in even the cleanest and well ventilated of places.

    Whenever we leave for a drive-about, my wife asks, “Did you bring a book and your reading glasses?” I must produce them for inspection before the car is shifted into gear.

    It is a satisfactory arrangement, I read while she shops. Marriage is all about balance, harmony and a bench or a bar where the guys can while away the hours.

  2. They are all great photos but i really want to go snoop through the old china and crystal.

  3. I love second hand store. I’ve found fabulous treasures. For example, I buy Jonathan Livingston Seagul and Ariel every time I see them!
    Also, Poe’s books MUST be under the Raven. Otherwise it’s just plain wrong!! xx Love from Duluth.

    • I bought a Jonathan Livingston Seagull book for my daughter as a bridal shower gift in 2013 at a used book sale. 🙂 Ah, the memories.

      And, yes, second-hand/antique stores/garage sales are favorites of mine, too.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kim. I so appreciate your writing. Reader’s check out Kim’s blog. Well worth your time to read about Kim’s personal insights into domestic violence.

  4. It’s always been a little fantasy of mine to have my own booth in an antiques mall. I’m too lazy to actually make it happen, but I can dream, right? Also, I’ve noticed that in antiques malls you can still detect regional differences in household items. We weren’t so homogenized once upon a time.

    • That’s an interesting observation. Could you give us some examples?

      • Sure, although purely my observations. In the Richmond area and much of the South, you’ll find tons of Civil War memorabilia. Often small Mammy dolls and things of that sort. Abundant silver and china, candelabras, really formal china and lavish serving pieces. In PA and Ohio, I noticed more Germanic type pieces, lots of pottery, braided rugs, farm implements, quilts. In horse country down in South Carolina, lots of oil paintings with horse themes and horse racing motifs. That sort of thing.

      • Thank you, Barbara. This is interesting to read your observations.

  5. I agree that there is a whole lot of poetry going on in this place and in your photos. And the regional observations on of your commenters mentions is something I hadn’t thought of but it makes perfect sense. What a great place to spend a Saturday.

    • Our Saturday day trip took us to West Concord, Pine Island (posts yet to come from there) and Oronoco. We thoroughly enjoyed each community. And to think we’ve passed by Oronoco and Pine Island countless times and never stopped.

      Like you, I had never considered either the regional differences in what you might find in an antique store.

  6. norma Says:

    I too love antique stores. I especially like the table lamp between the two red chairs. Beautiful.

  7. Sue Ready Says:

    I must say merging poetry and antiques makes sense when you think about it. I love your words…
    Seek out poetry in your daily life. It is everywhere. In a blooming crocus, in a baby’s smile, in asparagus clipped from your backyard patch, in a cardinal’s call, in the words you type

    Great words of advice Audrey, looking at the simple things in life and using some poetic words to express one’s feelings.
    Happy April Poetry Month-perhaps you will share some of your poetry with your readers this month??


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