Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An essay inspired by a garage sale sign in Faribault September 16, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Peace symbol sign, tie-dyed


I CAME OF AGE in the early 1970s, too young to be a Flower Child or hippie, yet old enough to remember all the anti-establishment and Vietnam War discontent.

I wore hip huggers, hot pants and bell bottoms. Fringed suede belts and go-go boots. A POW bracelet wrapped my wrist.


Peace symbol sign, orange


My bedroom was paneled and painted lime green, accented with a yellow smiley face bulletin board. A black-and-white movie poster of Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw hung above my bed. I loved the film Love Story, still do, even though it features a line—love means never having to say you’re sorry—that’s ridiculously stupid.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull quotes inspired me and Elton John’s Crocodile Rock rocked me.


Peace symbol sign, yellow


Mixed in with the funky tie-dyed t-shirts and the too wide pant legs and the too short skirts and the everything parents likely abhorred about teen fashion of the seventies was the peace symbol. Sweet peace. Today, decades removed from my youth, I still value the peace symbol. Peace. It is my hope for this big wide crazy world of ours, a timeless wish that remains constant through the generations.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


28 Responses to “An essay inspired by a garage sale sign in Faribault”

  1. The age of our youth. I remember these times well. I agree about the peace symbol.

  2. Marta Says:

    I still remember the embarrassment of the day when my college English professor eviscerated Jonathan Livingston Seagull in her lecture, and I had to hide my much/loved hardcover copy under my notebook.

  3. Thread crazy Says:

    I too rememberthose times as I graduated in 1970 and the peace sign was “it” in those days. The tv would be filled with scenes of college campus uprisings and from the vietnam war. Then there was those bell bottom pants; while i liked them, my shortness did not display them properly! Yes, those were the days my friend …

    • That’s a song, isn’t it? Those were the days, my friend…

      I am tall, thus I could wear bell bottoms well. I still have a pair of lime green pants I wore in high school. My mom saved them. No, they don’t fit. Not anywhere close.

  4. Perfection.
    I’d go to that garage sale simply because I really dig that sign, man! Groovy! xx

  5. Dan Traun Says:

    I do not understand the connection between a garage sale and peace; perhaps intended only as and eye-catcher. Did you check out the garage sale? Perhaps it was a treasure trove of tie dye apparel.

  6. We all could use a little more peace in our lives. I say the peace sign should make a comeback. That and long flowing hippy skirts.

  7. Sue Ready Says:

    Wow now that is some inspiring sign that motivated you to tap into your literary talents. Nicely written and certainly takes readers back many decades remembering when…

  8. Sweet Posy Dreams Says:

    Ah yes. When I was about nine, we lived in Germany and used to flash peace signs to the young American soldiers. They would smile and hold up their two fingers too. Funny how the WWII victory sign became a peace sign a generation later.

    It’s hard to believe that era was almost a lifetime ago.

  9. What is a POW bracelet? The 70’s was an interesting period, well written. My mother would have shot me dead rather than let me out the door in a mini skirt let alone hot pants. Lucky you!! c

  10. Littlesundog Says:

    Audry, I love this post!! So many great memories! I would have stopped by the garage sale too, just because of the sign! The peace sign has actually made a come back here in the South the last few years and I’m glad to see it. I went to a Lutheran parochial school during that era, and I can tell you as soon as I graduated high school I was wearing bell bottoms and mini skirts, and hot pants! I think the more society takes away and frowns on, the more likely kids are going to do it later anyway and possibly indulge a little TOO much! Ha ha! i turned out just fine… and I see some of those styles are back again.

  11. I love the music of the 70’s – that is my go to for music even now – AC/DC to CCR to Marley to Queen to Zeppelin 🙂 I had a peace symbol button and smiley face button on my jean jacket growing up. Thanks for the walk down memory lane today – enjoyed it 🙂 Happy Day!

    • Oh, yeah, the music. I loved Chicago, Bread, Elton John, Rod Stewart…

      I bet you wish you still had those buttons and that jean jacket. Or do you?

    • I still have those buttons in my memory box. The jean jacket would no longer fit and has been long donated. My husband has hauled his letter jacket throughout our various moves over the years though. I have had to drop some pounds of “stuff” over the years, especially with two cross-country moves now. I have not really unpacked because we are just in temporary housing right now. Hope to have a house to make a home and settle into next Spring, however; I have learned that my heart is home where ever my greatest someone is and that is what matters the most to me 🙂

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