Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Faces: Allis Chalmers devotee May 1, 2015

Portrait #19: Juanita


Portrait 19, Rice Co. Steam 2012, Juanita


I love how natural light from an open doorway provided the perfect lighting for this portrait of Juanita. This was an impromptu photo snapped in a blacksmith shop at the 2012 Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show, rural Dundas. To this day, it remains one of my favorite portraits.

I love the image not only because of its great lighting and composition, but because it truly captures the spirit of Juanita. Look at how her eyes sparkle, how her genuine smile dimples her cheeks, creases the corners of her eyes and spreads across her freckled face. I’ve always found Juanita, whom I met some five years ago at her dad’s Allis Chalmers tractor auction at his North Morristown farm, a people-person.

She’s also very much her own woman, one who unabashedly wears orange (here around her hat and neck) to honor her love of the Allis Chalmers brand. Juanita dresses practically and sensibly, usually with a rural fashion touch of orange.


This is part of a series, Minnesota Faces, featured every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “Minnesota Faces: Allis Chalmers devotee”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Why is it that these sparkly, down-to-earth types are (seemingly) more frequently found in the more rural settings!??!! I suspect it’s ‘cuz she/they (like ourselves) find it to be a more true-to-self atmosphere that is in place rather than the possible struggle to achieve that in a more urban setting. I can almost sense that conversations with her, over a glass of chilled lemonade, would be so very pleasant…….and lengthy, for there would be much she would have to share tempered with her ability to really listen.
    The weekend is, once again, upon us!!! The sands in that hourglass of time seems to be falling by bucket-fulls!!!! Have an awesome (enjoying-the-warmth) weekend, my Friend!!!!!!

    • I’ve always lived in rural Minnesota, thus can’t compare folks here to those in the city. But I find your observation interesting. Perhaps we are more connected in rural areas and that makes a difference?

      You have a wonderful weekend also.

  2. Almost Iowa Says:

    It is amazing how all the joys, sorrows, passions and pain of a lifetime can be captured in a fraction of a second.

    • It’s interesting that you write this. When I rang bells for the Salvation Army this past Christmas, I always looked those approaching me in the eye and greeted them warmly. Some didn’t want to make eye contact while others approached with broad smiles and a look which exudes happiness. I could see despair and difficulties in the faces of some; joy and optimism in the faces of others. So I suppose a portrait reveals the same.

  3. Great post!!! Beautiful lady. My Step Father collects old Alice Chalmers. I should take pictures of them next time I go home.

  4. Littlesundog Says:

    Oh I agree with you! Juanita is such a lovely representative of rural life and the healthy glow that results in life’s work, passion and good country living. Great photo!!

  5. Marneymae Says:

    First tractor I ever drove was a small Allis-Chalmers.
    I’m forever fond of them for that reason alone.

  6. She looks so happy! But I’m going to have to disagree that happy, down-to-earth people are more often found in rural areas. Come to Roseville and I’ll introduce your readers to a few right here in the Twin Cities. Just sayin’. 🙂

    • And I know two, other than you, who live in Roseville and they are happy, down-to-earth people, too.

      I totally expect as many happy people can be found in the city as in the country. I just found Doreen’s comment interesting and am glad it’s sparking conversation here. Thanks for your input.

  7. Thread crazy Says:

    Wonderful post Audrey. Her facial expression shows her personality of which I sure is a friendly happy soul, along with a laid back attitude. Isn’t it amazing, just in a glance, we can read so much into another person life.

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