Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Small town observations from southwestern Minnesota April 3, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I APPRECIATE THE ODDITIES of small towns. If oddities is the correct word.

But there are things you can do in rural communities that you can’t in others much larger.

For example, while driving through downtown Belview, Minnesota, on a recent Saturday afternoon, I spotted two guys outside the August Donnor American Legion Post washing a tank. One with a hose, the other with hands on hips. Supervising probably.

The scene seemed so iconic rural.

I snapped two frames while Randy and I passed by, returning from the Cenex just down the main street on the northern end of the short business district. I needed a cylinder of Pringles for my mom back at the city-owned care center. She’d asked for them. I found a few canisters in several flavors, a neon orange sticker pricing the potato chips at $2.39. That sticker in itself speaks small town.

I explained my mission to the clerk, who used to work at Parkview, whose mother was once my mother’s table mate in the assisted living part of the facility. That’s the thing about rural Minnesota, too. Lives weave into lives.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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25 Responses to “Small town observations from southwestern Minnesota”

  1. Barb Wegner Says:

    I love Pringles but $1 is all I want to pay @ Dollar Tree

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Inquiring minds want to know what flavor you ended up with. 🙂 Small towns are the best, aren’t they? Even though our town is not as small as the one in your story I felt small town-ness yesterday at the grocery store when I was greeted by several friends and acquaintances and received wonderful hugs. Probably not what would happen in big cities,.

    • I bought just the regular flavor as I didn’t know what Mom preferred and decided to play it safe.

      I’m glad you got those hugs at the grocery store after your difficult past week. That certainly speaks small town to me. Here’s a virtual hug for you, dear friend.

  3. Kiandra Judge Says:

    I love this! Last summer I was driving with my son through Cannon Falls to find the pool when I got pulled over for speeding. The speed limit had dropped when I got crossed the overpass from the country road and I didn’t see it. The officer was very friendly, we chatted about how my son wanted to go swimming and that we were going to the Twins game that evening. He gave me a warning then we went on our way.
    Later, we were at Casey’s for a bathroom stop before heading up to the city and there was Officer Nelson sitting in the booth at Casey’s! He told me to have a fun time at the Twins game 😊
    It was awesome!

  4. valeriebollinger Says:

    Lives weave into lives. I like that…it’s so true, especially in small towns.

  5. I enjoyed growing up in a small town and have many fond memories. I still remember BroCraves getting in trouble in high school and having to run full speed to his car at the middle school parking lot. MomCraves worked at the middle school and he did not want to deal with her mad until she cooled off a bit – ha! We had a few neighborhood moms who knew when we were good as well as up to no good. Kept us on the straight and narrow for the most part. That sense of community and belonging to a bigger world than your immediate family unit that became an extension of family too. Like an episode of Cheers where everyone knows your name. I go back home and people in the community recognize me before my own family members do at times. Thanks for sharing the small town life in your posts this week 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy!

    • Such small town memories like yours warm my heart. Neighborhood moms who watched out for you, people who recognize you still even after your long absence…we need each other. Beyond blood family. Thank you for sharing your small town stories.

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    Every marriage between BIG CITY and small town spouses, eventually plays out the following drama.

    “Put that back.”
    “What?”
    “It is for my family’s potluck.”
    “Yeah?”
    “We will get the fancy kind when we get to the Cities.”
    “Aren’t my kind good enough for you?”
    …..

    The last time we played out this scene was over corn chips. My family likes blue corn chips, some even insist on organic. At her gatherings, Old Dutch chips are just fine, actually preferred.

    This went on for years, until I stopped her in the aisle of her little small town Quckie-Mart..

    “Look! Organic blue corn chips!”

    She didn’t speak to me for a month.

  7. Very true! When I still lived in my hometown I had man walk up to me if I was my fathers daughter because I looked like him. He sat down with me and told me several childhood stories from their days of raising Cain

  8. Gunny Says:

    LOL. My father lived in a little burg of maybe a 100 people. Town was platted before 1900 and his house was built in 1900! I went to the ONLY restaurant to see if he was there as he wasn’t at home. Not being there, I headed to the (only) gas and snack store which was also one of his haunts. I asked the cashier if she had seen him or knew of his whereabouts. She replied “who wants to know?” To which I replied “His number 1 son.” She seemed stunned and denied even knowing him. When he passed away, residents were stunned to find he had six children and not just the 2 that they knew of.

    For over 40 years this town did not have a police officer. Now they have 3 and yes, it is now a speed trap!

    • This comment leaves me with many questions. Why would the cashier react that way to your inquiry? Why would your dad share that he had only two children instead of six? And why does that town now need three police officers?

      I don’t expect you to answer these questions because sometimes answers are best left unsaid/unwritten. Just questions brewing in my always inquisitive brain.

  9. Bella Says:

    enjoyed reading comments on your blog posting even though I am a city girl I can appreciate the wonderful memories living in a small town brings.


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