Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Memorable Geneva, Minnesota June 29, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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RECENTLY I STOPPED in Geneva. That would be in Minnesota, not Switzerland, population hovering around 555. Or, if you have a sense of humor, 100,000. Someone scrawled that number onto a sign marking entry to this Freeborn County community just off Interstate 35 north of Albert Lea.

My only knowledge of Geneva comes from radio spots and the personal endorsement (from my friend Howard) for George’s of Geneva. The restaurant is known for its prime and barbecued ribs. So when my husband and I pulled into town on our meandering way home from an overnight get-away to Clear Lake, Iowa, I was scouting for George’s.

But a few other sites caught my attention first…

 

Geneva, crayon fence

 

…like a crayon fence

 

Geneva, post office

 

and the post office.

 

Geneva, George's of Geneva

 

Then I nearly missed George’s. I was watching for an impressive building with bold signage. Instead, this dining place is housed in a rather unassuming low-slung white building with understated signage. I wish we’d taken time to step inside. But it was the middle of the afternoon and we weren’t hungry.

 

I'm pretty certain my husband was coveting one of these vintage pick-up trucks. Me too.

I’m pretty certain my husband was coveting one of these vintage pick-up trucks. Me too.

Set in the heart of southern Minnesota farmland, Geneva is definitively rural.

Set in the heart of southern Minnesota farmland, Geneva is definitively rural.

Refrigerators/freezers are corralled outside Sovenson's Appliance.

Refrigerators/freezers are corralled outside Sorenson’s Appliance.

 

We continued our brief tour, driving along several residential and commercial streets.

 

Geneva, fenced garden

 

Geneva gives an impression that residents care. Not all small towns show that, meaning yards are unkempt and properties have fallen into disrepair.

 

Geneva, bear on bench

 

I’ll also remember the quirky side of Geneva, beginning with that population notation and crayon fence and then a carnival-sized teddy bear spotted lounging on a bench.

As we turned north out of town toward Blooming Prairie, I knew I would remember Geneva.

TELL ME, WHAT WOULD visitors remember if they drove into your community for a brief tour? Just in and out, what would be their impressions, positive and/or negative? Does your town need to work on improving its image?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling