Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Humorous honesty from the granddaughter January 24, 2023

When my grandchildren say the darndest things, I think of Art Linkletter’s “House Party” and his “Kids Say the Darndest Things” segment. Their answers to his questions proved honest, humorous and entertaining.

KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS. I can vouch for that. I raised three kids, cared for many others and am now the grandmother of two, one going on seven, the other just turned four.

Recently the grandkids, Isabelle and her little brother, Isaac, stayed overnight. During that short stay, Izzy elicited laughter with her honest observations and her leadership skills.

An outhouse repurposed as a garden shed at my brother and sister-in-law’s rural southwestern Minnesota acreage. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

First the honesty. I don’t recall how we got on the topic, but at some point I shared that I grew up in a house without a bathroom. Taking a bath meant my dad hauling a tin tub from the porch into the kitchen every Saturday evening and then Mom filling it with water. Our bathroom, I explained to Izzy, was a little building outside with two holes cut in a bench. And in the winter, we used a covered pot set inside the unheated porch.

I don’t know that Izzy understood all of this. But, as she sat there listening to Grandma spin tales of the olden days, she assessed. “It sounds like a different world to me!” I laughed at her observation. She was right. Growing up in rural Minnesota in the 1950s and 1960s was, most assuredly, a different world from hers. My granddaughter lives in a sprawling suburban house with four bathrooms. In 1967, my family of birth moved into a new farmhouse with a single bathroom. And a bathtub. Today I feel thankful to live in a house with one bathroom. I wouldn’t want to clean four.

I took this award-winning photo of BINGO callers at the North Morristown July Fourth celebration in 2013. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo 2013)

Then there’s BINGO, which we play nearly every time we’re together with Isabelle and Isaac. They were introduced to the game at the Helbling Family Reunion and have loved it since. The kids take turns not only playing, but also calling numbers.

Isabelle has advanced greatly in her BINGO-calling skills. This time, in addressing us, she called us “folks.” I don’t know where Izzy heard that term, but it’s certainly more rural than suburban lingo. I suggested she might be ready to call BINGO next summer at North Morristown’s annual Fourth of July celebration. Unincorporated North Morristown is a Lutheran church and school and a few farm places clustered in the middle of nowhere west of Faribault. Izzy seems well-prepared to call BINGO numbers to the folks there.

I should have shared with my granddaughter that, when I was growing up, we covered our BINGO cards with corn kernels during Vesta’s (my hometown) annual BINGO Night. I expect she would have responded as a child 60 years younger than me: “It sounds like a different world to me!” And I would have agreed.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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26 Responses to “Humorous honesty from the granddaughter”

  1. beth Says:

    i love every word of this and her comments and calling you ‘folks.’ she is an old soul in a young body.

  2. I love Art Linkletter’s “Kids…” Sweet, happy memories. 🙂

  3. Ida Fetterer Says:

    Love this story about the Grand Kids. It reminded of me of how in the 50’s and 60’s we did with so much less than the kids today. The term “folks” is what we say here, too. We did have a tiny house with 2 bedrooms and one bathroom for 8 of us, that had a toilet and a sink and shower, but no tub. Taking turns was important with 6 kids and if we couldn’t wait to go to the bathroom, Mom who grew up on a farm would always go, then go outside, LOL. I loved hearing about the kernels of corn used on the bingo cards. 🙂

  4. You have me cracking up this morning with your post – ha! I say “folks” and people sometimes will ask directly not from here are you. No, I am not and that is okay. We all have our own stories of life and I love that and enjoy listening when people want to share a little bit more of themselves too. Out of the mouths of babes! My nephews have sprouted some humorous lines growing up and still have some fond memories of the best ones. I still remember church bingo, especially the Fall ones where frozen turkeys were handed out as prizes (that was very generous). Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  5. Rose Says:

    Grandchildren bring so much joy to our lives. 😆 Our grandbabies had us laughing so hard when they put on an impromptu play at Itasca State Park this past weekend.

    • I love that your grandkids put on a play this weekend for you on the spur of the moment. My younger siblings and cousins did that also when the relatives from the Cities came to the farm for a visit. There was no admission price, but you had to pay to leave the show.

      Tell me, what was the impromptu play your grandkids performed? Would love to hear the story.

  6. What amazing memories with the sweet grands. I can’t wait until if/when the right time for a grandchild arrives for us. What joy to be around the innocent little ones discovering all ‘the different worlds’ around us. How adorable!

  7. Valerie Says:

    Out of the mouths of babes! Fun.

  8. Norma Says:

    Oh Audrey! I enjoy so much your telling of the stories of “our” young ones. I always used to wonder how one could love someone they never saw, but your words show so much love for those children, thus allowing me to love them also. Thank you.

  9. That Izzy has a great sense of humor and I think she has a handle on things –it really is a different world today than when we grew up, right? Thanks for sharing. I loved it.

  10. How endearing! Made me smile.
    Just the fact that anyone knows what an outhouse is would be shocking to me. Growing up in those same conditions in Northern MN was weird to most my classmates in the 1970’s.
    I am with you on 4 bathrooms, I would hire a maid before I would clean that many!

  11. Charles Ziegler Says:

    Your description of life in your childhood home reminded me of the times I spent visiting my Grandfather’s farm in Sheridan Township (near Belview). The house did not have indoor plumbing. There was a kitchen sink that had a pump but no connection to a sewer system, so the water was collected in a large bucket under the sink and emptied as necessary. And yes, there was certainly an outhouse. Luckily, we only visited in the summer!

    • Thank you for sharing your southern Minnesota childhood memories. Like your grandfather, my Uncle Mike had a pump in his kitchen sick rather than running water. When we would go there to celebrate his October birthday, we cousins thronged around the water bucket, taking dippers full of cold well water and tipping the water into our mouths. Not much concern about spreading germs back then.


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