Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An April Fool’s legend from the Minnesota northwoods April 1, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 1:30 PM
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THIS MORNING MY SISTER EMAILED, advising me to get outside ASAP because the cows were out.

I typed a hurried response: “But the bus is coming. And your toast is burning!”

Neither Lanae or I live on farms any more. So what was going on?

Lanae, unlike me, remembered today is April Fool’s Day. And those three falsehoods were the lame jokes we tried to pull on our siblings every April 1 while growing up on a southwestern Minnesota dairy and crop farm.

With the help of enthusiastic preteens, we decorated the park shelter and a screened tent with bells and crepe paper in honor of Jeff and Janet's 20th wedding anniversary.

In July 2010, the annual Kletscher family reunion was themed to celebrate Jeff and Janet’s 20th wedding anniversary. We decorated for the anniversary, ate anniversary cake, showered Jeff (and the absent Janet) with gifts and held a bridesmaid dress judging contest. Some of the dresses were modeled by attendees. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2010.

Those pranks are mere child’s play compared to the joke my cousin Jeff, who celebrates his 25th wedding anniversary today, pulled off on his unsuspecting parents in 1990. He mailed an announcement of his marriage to Janet at the St. Louis County Courthouse. It was a private affair with only Janet’s daughters, Heidi and Amber, attending.

As the story goes, my Uncle Harold paled upon reading the news. And Aunt Marilyn, in shock, picked up the phone and dialed her daughter, who knew nothing of Janet. Marilyn, already formulating a wedding reception in her mind, called the northern Minnesota school where Jeff taught math. Jeff was summoned to the principal’s office.

When he was finally able to calm down his stunned mother, he advised her to look at the back of the card. There he had typed: rehcstelk ffej morf gniteerg sloof lirpa na.

Backwards, the words revealed: an april fools greeting from jeff kletscher.

There was no northwoods bride, no marriage, not even a girlfriend.

He had just created the stuff of family lore and legend.

My cousin Dawn, with the help of daughter Megan, made two beautiful anniversary cakes for her brother. My Uncle Wally and Aunt Janice made and decorated the less attractive cake with the beanie baby bears.

Cakes served at Jeff and Janet’s 20th wedding anniversary celebration in 2010. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2010.

After receiving my sister’s email this morning, I emailed my bachelor cousin to wish him and Janet a happy anniversary and inquired as to how many years they had been married.

“Twenty-five wonderful years!!!,” Jeff enthused. “I believe we made silver.”

The cake topper from Jeanne and Arnie's wedding with golden anniversary wishes 50 years later.

This wedding cake topper was displayed at a recent golden wedding anniversary. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

No, Jeff, I believe you made gold.

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FYI: Click here to read my blog post about the 2010 Kletscher family reunion where we celebrated Jeff and Janet’s 20th anniversary.

Can you top this April Fool’s prank?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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An April Fool’s Day legend April 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:09 AM
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TWENTY-TWO YEARS AGO on March 30, 1990, my cousin Jeff married Janet at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth, MN. It was a small affair with only Janet’s daughters, Heidi and Amber, attending.

Jeff, who hadn’t even told his parents he was dating Janet, shared the news via a printed announcement that proclaimed “And four shall become a family.”

To say Jeff’s parents were surprised would be an understatement. Shocked would be more accurate.

As the story goes, my uncle apparently paled upon reading the news of the marriage and my aunt reacted by picking up the phone. First she called her daughter to see if she knew anything of the unexpected marriage. Dawn didn’t.

Then Marilyn phoned the Floodwood school where Jeff was teaching. I’ll let Jeff tell the story from here. And remember, this was 1990, in the days before telephones in classrooms, so Jeff was pulled out of class to take the call from his mother.

There I sat, the secretary at her desk to my right, the principal at his desk in his office to my left, both just feet away, overhearing one side of this awkward conversation about my recent wedding.

Mom, of course, had many questions—about Janet, about Heidi and Amber, about planning a wedding reception. Well, I was able to calm Mom down enough to tell her to look at the back of the card and remember what day it was, or what day had just passed.

That would be April Fool’s Day. On the back, the new groom had written: “rehcstelk ffej morf gniteerg sloof lirpa na.”

From right to left, Jeff’s message read: “an april fools greeting from jeff kletscher.”

Yes, my creative cousin had just pulled off one of the best family April Fool’s Day jokes ever, the stuff of legends. His marriage to a northwoods bride was pure fiction.

My cousin Dawn, with the help of daughter Megan, made two beautiful anniversary cakes for her brother. My Uncle Wally and Aunt Janice made and decorated the other cake with the beanie baby bears.

Twenty years after that fake marriage, we celebrated Jeff and Janet’s 20th wedding anniversary at the annual Kletscher family reunion in 2010. We decorated the shelterhouse at the park with anniversary banners, crepe paper and tissue paper bells. Relatives came bearing gifts. And there were even three anniversary cakes to celebrate the occasion.

CAN ANYONE out there top Jeff’s April Fool’s Day prank? I’d like to hear. (BTW, my cousin is still single.)

April Fool’s jokes during my childhood consisted of these:

Your toast is burning!

The bus is here!

The cows are out!

I know. Not at all creative.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Blogging in April April 1, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:59 AM
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DEAR READERS,

After much thoughtful consideration, I have decided to stop blogging. This writing endeavor is sucking up too much of my time for little no pay.

OK, if your heart skipped a beat there for a moment, good. If you panicked at the thought of missing your daily dose of Minnesota Prairie Roots, good. If you wonder what prompted this decision, good.

Stop. You needn’t worry. That first paragraph is an absolute falsehood/lie/lame attempt at an April Fool’s joke.

I could no more stop blogging than I could cut off my hand.

So you are stuck with me and my writing. I have no intentions of closing up shop at this blog.

Why do I keep doing this day after day when I’m not earning a nickel penny from publishing here at Minnesota Prairie Roots? (OK, sometimes my blogs end up revamped as articles published, for pay, in magazines.)

I blog because I “have to.” I love language and writing and telling a good story and sharing my thoughts that much. Think about the single thing that is your passion in life and you will understand mine. Writing.

Clearly, trying to pull off a joke on April Fool’s Day, and most any day, is not my talent. I am too honest to continue a charade for more than two sentences.

Even as a child, I struggled to, with a straight face, attempt an April Fool’s joke. My siblings failed to believe “The school bus is here” or “Your toast is burning.” I could have thought of something more creative like “The cows are out.”

Or I could have been really, absolutely, undeniably creative like my cousin Jeff, the mayor of Floodwood, who 21 years ago today announced in an announcement mailed to his unsuspecting parents that he had gotten married. He hadn’t married a northwoods woman. Let me tell you, that fib didn’t go over too well with the parents. I think they laugh about that April Fool’s joke now. Maybe.

How about you? Have you pulled off the ultimate April Fool’s joke. I’d like to hear your stories. Submit a comment. We’d all like a laugh or three on this gloomy Friday morning in Minnesota with snow in the forecast for the weekend. And that’s no April Fool’s joke.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling