Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Faribault’s all-American snowman January 26, 2016

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Divison Street snowman, 14 with house

 

IN THE YARD OF A CUTE craftsman style house at a busy intersection in Faribault, a patriotic snowman greets passersby. I pass by this sunny yellow home often. On my way to and from church. On my way to and from Minnesota State Highway 60.

 

Division Street snowman, 17 semi close

 

I don’t know who lives at 402 Division Street. But I appreciate the creativity of this snowman. Red and blue votive candles for buttons. American flags for arms. An American flag banner cinched around the snowman’s waist.

 

Division Street snowman, 19, close-up two

 

Even red and blue dye for lips.

This isn’t your average snowman or snowwoman, whichever it may be.

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Tell me about any creative snow people you’ve seen, even built.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Southern Minnesota snapshots of the stars-and-stripes July 5, 2015

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An American flag flies at the Perkins restaurant in North Mankato on Sunday afternoon.

An American flag flies at the Perkins restaurant in North Mankato on Sunday afternoon.

A VISIBLE SPIRIT of American patriotism prevailed in rural southern Minnesota this July Fourth weekend. Like so many other places in this great country of ours.

Along U.S. Highway 14 on the north side of Mankato.

Along U.S. Highway 14 on the north side of Mankato.

As my husband, son and I journeyed from Faribault to Lamberton for a family gathering, I noticed the red, white and blue everywhere.

Flags line a cemetery entry along U.S. Highway 14 in New Ulm Saturday afternoon.

Flags line a cemetery entry along U.S. Highway 14 in New Ulm Saturday afternoon.

I love this show of pride in America, in the freedom the stars-and-stripes represents.

Two of my nieces and a nephew were among those gathered in rural Lamberton on the Fourth of July.

Two of my nieces and a nephew, dressed in patriotic attire, were among those gathered in rural Lamberton on the Fourth of July. Photo by Randy Helbling.

How blessed I am to live in this land.

MORE RED, WHITE AND BLUE:

American flags line U.S. Highway 14 in downtown Sleepy Eye.

American flags line buildings along U.S. Highway 14 in downtown Sleepy Eye.

A close-up of a flag in downtown Sleepy Eye.

Downtown Sleepy Eye.

A patriotic can cooler.

A patriotic can cooler.

Flags in a window overlooking the patio at my brother and sister-in-law's home.

Flags in a window overlooking the patio at my brother and sister-in-law’s home.

This is the old manure spreader from the farm where I grew up. My sister-in-law attached the patriotic bunting for the Fourth.

This is the old manure spreader, now used to showcase flowers, from the farm where I grew up. My sister-in-law attached the patriotic bunting for the Fourth.

Sunday afternoon in Elysian, a flag flies over a tent on the Trails of History event.

Sunday afternoon in Elysian, a flag flies over a tent on the Trails of History event.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

On-the-road patriotism, Minnesota style July 4, 2015

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American flags a wavin', this truck takes the northbound entrance ramp onto Interstate 35 off Minnesota State Highway 60 Friday afternoon.

American flags a wavin’, this truck takes the northbound entrance ramp onto Interstate 35 off Minnesota State Highway 60 Friday afternoon in Faribault.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July, everyone!

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A photo essay: Celebrating Memorial Day in Faribault May 25, 2015

The Color Guard always leads the parade.

The parade begins with the Rice County Central Veterans Association Honor Guard/Color Guard leading the way.

FOR THE THIRTY-THREE YEARS I’ve lived in Faribault, I’ve rarely missed a Memorial Day parade and the program that follows in Central Park.

Little Ivan arrives for the parade in a car pushed by his dad, Jake.

Little Ivan arrives for the parade in a car pushed by his dad, Jake.

It’s a time-honored tradition of music and marches, salutes and speeches, flags and families.

Saluting the flag.

Saluting the flag at the ceremony in Central Park.

I’m proud to live in a community where patriotism and service to country and respect for the American flag and all it means runs strong from generation to generation.

From kids to adults, many are dressed in a patriotic red, white and blue.

From kids to adults, many are dressed in a patriotic red, white and blue.

Honorary Grand Marshall, Adrian Gillen, rides in the parade alongside his wife, Jean. The couple both served their country and were duo grand marshalls.

Grand Marshal, Adrian Gillen, rides in the parade alongside his wife, Jean. The couple both served their country and were duo grand marshals.

David Kirkpatrick, who is my eldest daughter's classmate, was the honorary grand marshall.

David Kirkpatrick, who is my eldest daughter’s classmate, was the honorary grand marshal.

The Shattuck-St. Mary's Crack Squad always marches in the parade and always fires their guns.

The Shattuck-St. Mary’s Crack Squad always marches in the parade and always fires their guns.

Cub

The Scouts always hand out American flags during the parade.

The parade includes vintage vehicles.

The parade includes vintage vehicles.

You know the parade is ending when horses and riders arrive.

You know the parade is ending when horses and riders arrive.

At Central Park, the Bethlehem Academy Band awaits their turn to play the National Anthem.

At Central Park, the Bethlehem Academy Band awaits their turn to play the National Anthem.

Some attendees clutch American flags.

Some attendees clutch American flags.

Honored veterans Adrian Gillen, left, and brothers Matt and David Kirkpatrick.

Honored veterans Adrian Gillen, left, and brothers Matt and David Kirkpatrick.

Veterans Travis Quinlan watches the program at the park with hundreds of others.

Veteran Travis Quinlan watches the program at the park with hundreds of others. He was also a classmate of my eldest daughter.

Hundreds gathered in Central Park for the program, presented on the bandshell. The Girl Scouts participated with a presentation on flag folding and more.

Hundreds gathered in Central Park for the program, presented on the bandshell. The Girl Scouts participated with a presentation on flag folding and more.

Archie Temple walked in the parade and then arrived at the park for the Memorial Day program. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1952-1956, during the time of the Korean War.

Archie Temple walked in the parade and then arrived at the park for the Memorial Day program. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1952-1956, during the time of the Korean War. That’s his original Navy uniform.

Honored combat veteran David Kirkpatrick address the crowd as grand marshalls Jean and Adrian Gillen watch.

Honored combat veteran Matt Kirkpatrick addresses the crowd. Grand marshals Jean and Adrian Gillen are seated next to the podium.

David Kirkpatrick gives a few brief remarks.

David Kirkpatrick speaks briefly.

As is tradition each year, members of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 43 place wreaths on the memorial cross.

As is tradition each year, members of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 43 place wreaths on the memorial cross.

The Color Guard is an important part of the day's events.

The Honor Guard/Color Guard is an important part of the day’s events.

As they left the park, veterans Travis Quinlan, left, and David and Matt Kirkpatrick posed for one last photo. Travis and David were Faribault High School classmates.

As they left the park, veterans Travis Quinlan, left, and David and Matt Kirkpatrick posed for one last photo. Travis and David were Faribault High School classmates.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

American pride on Memorial Day weekend

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Downtown Waseca, Minnesota, on Memorial Day weekend.

Downtown Waseca, Minnesota, on Memorial Day weekend.

MEMORIAL DAY BRINGS a focused gratefulness for freedom. And nothing is more visually representative of freedom in the U.S. than the American flag.

Another scene from downtown Waseca, on the other side of the street.

Another scene from downtown Waseca, on the other side of the street.

This weekend those flags are flying seemingly everywhere. On front porches, from flag poles and from lamp posts.

Driving eastbound on U.S. Highway 14 between Nicollet and Mankato.

Driving eastbound on U.S. Highway 14 between Nicollet and Mankato.

I feel my national pride swell at the sight of flags flying in communities like Elysian, Waseca and Morristown. On a Saturday trip from Faribault to Belview and back, I noticed the red-white-and-blue adorning homes, businesses, pick-up trucks and even silos. Just outside of Morristown, a couple grilled on their deck, an American flag waving in the wind just inches away.

A business in downtown Belview, Minnesota.

A business in downtown Belview, Minnesota.

I am thankful to live in this country. And grateful to those men and women who died for freedom. Because of them, I am free to express myself through writing and photography. Free.

The American flag on a bag of  Crystal Sugar.

The American flag on a bag of Crystal Sugar.

On Sunday, as I diced rhubarb in my kitchen, I pulled a bag of sugar from the cupboard. And there, at the top of the bag, was printed an American flag. I paused in that moment, remembering the words I’d sung hours earlier at Trinity Lutheran Church, where I am free to worship:

God bless America, Land that I love,
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above…

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
“God Bless America” by Irving Berlin

 

The patriotism of the Winnebago County, Iowa, courthouse square May 21, 2015

At the top of the hill looking down the street we just traveled to reach downtown Forest City and courthouse square.

At the top of the hill looking down the street we just traveled to reach downtown Forest City and courthouse square.

THE RED-WHITE-AND-BLUE BEDECKED gazebo caught my attention as we drove up the hill, past grain bins and Dollar General, into downtown Forest City two Saturdays before Memorial Day.

This oversized gazebo sits in the Winnebago County Courthouse square.

This oversized gazebo sits in the Winnebago County Courthouse square.

What a delightful, patriotic welcome to this northern Iowa county seat, home to Waldorf College, Winnebago Industries and Heritage Park of North Iowa.

The courthouse was built in 1897 for $20,496. A south wing was added later.

The courthouse was built in 1897 for $20,496. A south wing was added later.

The Winnebago County Veterans Memorial rests on the side of the courthouse near the gazebo.

The Winnebago County Veterans Memorial rests on the side of the courthouse near the gazebo.

The Union Soldier statue was purchased by the local Women's Relief Corps in 1899. The chapter was founded to care for Union soldiers and to assist their widows and orphans and to honor the dead. There are 151 Civil War veterans buried in Winnebago County.

The Union Soldier statue was purchased by the local Women’s Relief Corps in 1899. The chapter was founded to care for Union soldiers and to assist their widows and orphans, and to honor the dead. There are 151 Civil War veterans buried in Winnebago County.

This eye-catching display of American pride drew my eyes to the gazebo and then to the imposing 1897 Romanesque style courthouse. Both sit in the Winnebago County Courthouse square, graced by two war memorials—that of a Union soldier and the Winnebago County Veterans Memorial.

The vintage Sherman tank.

The vintage Sherman tank.

A Sherman tank anchors a corner of the block.

A sculpture on a corner of the courthouse.

A sculpture on a corner of the courthouse.

Aiming my camera up at the towering courthouse.

Aiming my camera up at the towering courthouse. Notice all that architectural detail.

Another courthouse sculpture.

Another courthouse sculpture.

The Union Soldier was constructed from zinc by J. L. Mott Iron Works of Trenton, New Jersey, at a cost of $155.

The Union Soldier was constructed from zinc by J. L. Mott Iron Works of Trenton, New Jersey, at a cost of $155. The monument was restored in 2005.

The fountain atop which the Union soldier stands was also built by J. L. Mott Iron Works. It is of French Victorian design. The goat head symbolizes strength and victory.

The fountain atop which the Union soldier stands was also built by J. L. Mott Iron Works. It is of French Victorian design. The goat heads symbolize strength and victory.

It was a lot to take in, to photograph. Artsy architectural details add visual interest to the fountain and courthouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. I only wished it had been a week day so I could have toured the courthouse interior.

I appreciated the patriotic colors on The Legion.

I appreciated the patriotic colors on The Legion.

But, since I couldn’t get inside, I focused my camera on the exterior, all the while watched by two elderly men across the street near the Legion. I expect they were wondering about the couple in the car with Minnesota plates and the woman shooting pictures with a fancy camera. Perhaps I should have chatted it up with them. The likely could have told me a story or ten.

FYI: Click here to read my first, and then my second, blog post on other Forest City, Iowa, attractions.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Tattoo patriotism for kids July 10, 2014

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GROWING UP, my exposure to tattoos involved Easter. In every package of Paas Easter egg dye came a selection of washable tattoos.

Mom suggested we wait until after Easter Sunday church services to apply the tattoos to our arms. Apparently she thought inked skin unsuitable for our Lutheran church. Sometimes we waited. Sometimes we didn’t. I won’t pretend that my siblings and I were always angelic kids who listened.

Those are my thoughts whenever I see washable tattoos. On the Fourth of July, my niece Tara pulled out two patriotic-themed tattoos she’d saved from some event.

My almost-six-year-old great niece, Ari, was thrilled about getting a tatoo:

STEP ONE: Applying Ari's tattoo with a wet washcloth.

STEP ONE: Apply tattoo with a damp washcloth.

STEP TWO: Removing the washcloth and paper for the great reveal.

STEP TWO: Remove the washcloth and paper for the great reveal.

STEP THREE: Blow on the tattoo to dry it.

STEP THREE: Blow on the tattoo.

DISTRACTION: Even the distraction of the camera did not stop Ari from blowing.

DISTRACTION: Even the distraction of the camera did not stop Ari from following instructions.

STEP FOUR: The great reveal.

STEP FOUR: Show off your tattoo.

But my two-year-old great nephew, Hank, was not quite as thrilled:

STEP ONE: Applying a tattoo to a hesitant Hank.

STEP ONE: Apply a tattoo to a curious Hank.

STEP TWO: Revealing a USA tattoo to a seemingly uninterested Hank.

STEP TWO: Reveal a USA tattoo to a seemingly uninterested Hank.

STEP TWO: Revealing the USA tattoo to Hank.

HANK CONTEMPLATING.

STEP THREE: Prompt tattoo removal by Hank.

STEP THREE: Promptly scratch off the tattoo.

That’s the thing about tattoos. Some people like them and some don’t. I do. But only if they’re the washable kind.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Grassroots patriotism July 9, 2014

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EACH TIME I TRAVEL through Sleepy Eye, I notice this old house situated on a corner along U.S. Highway 14 east of downtown.

A quick snapshot of a patriotic house in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.

A quick snapshot of a patriotic house in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.

I could lament at the need for a little exterior TLC.

But rather, I focus on the patriotism, that always-there “WE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS” sign.

Within the walls of this old house lives someone who’s perhaps served or has a loved one serving our country or who’s simply just proud of our military. Maybe all three.

I love the genuineness of this patriotic display. I imagine the homeowner shopping for the bunting and the flags and those little whirligigs.

I imagine, too, the long search, or maybe even a special order placement, for that can’t miss royal blue carpet.

This old house shows me patriotism at its grassroots basic. From the heart. From the home.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Happy birthday, America July 4, 2014

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THROUGH THE YEARS, I have photographed numerous patriotic scenes and American flags.

Today, in celebration of the birthday of the United States of America, I bring you American patriotism from…

 

Copy of Garage, Stars & Stripes 1

 

 

the Stars & Stripes Garage in Heidelberg, Minnesota;

 

Flags, Decorah house

 

an historic home in Decorah, Iowa,

 

Flags, Montgomery, Minnesota, edit 1

 

the Main Street of Montgomery, Minnesota,

 

American flag edited

 

and Anywhere, USA.

Happy Fourth, dear readers! Enjoy this holiday and thank God for the freedoms that come with being an American.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Observing Memorial Day at a rural Minnesota cemetery May 27, 2014

Folks begin arriving for the 2 p.m. Memorial Day program at the Cannon City Cemetery.

Folks begin arriving for the 2 p.m. Memorial Day program at the Cannon City Cemetery.

NEARLY 100 YEARS AGO, students paraded with lilac wreaths from their country school a short distance to the Cannon City Cemetery to honor the war dead.

The cemetery fence decorated for Memorial Day.

The cemetery fence decorated for Memorial Day.

Song sheets are distributed to those in attendance and then collected at the end of the program.

Song sheets are distributed to those in attendance and then collected at the end of the program.

Cannon City resident Bob Lewis, a veteran, arrives for the service. Later Bob will share info about the Rice County Drum and Bugle Corps.

Cannon City resident Bob Lewis, a veteran, arrives for the service. Later Bob, a former bugler, will share info about the Rice County Drum and Bugle Corps.

Today there is no “Death March” music, only patriotic songs. There is no school picnic like that after the long ago Memorial Day parade to this rural Rice County, Minnesota, cemetery on the edge of Cannon City some five miles northeast of Faribault.

Off to pick dandelions among tombstones.

Off to pick dandelions among tombstones.

But the children still come, some attentive to the ceremony led by Mel Sanborn, others darting, this Memorial Day, among tombstones to gather bouquets of dandelions. Later, they will toss dandelions into a flower bed ringing the American flag and carry other clutches home. It is a sweet moment to witness.

The program opens with singing of "The Star Spangled Banner." Steve Bonde is on the bugle.

The program opens with singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Steve Bonde is on the bugle.

Musicians' song sheets.

Musicians’ song sheets.

Jean Pederson listens after reciting "In Flanders Fields."

Jean Pederson listens after reciting “In Flanders Fields.”

I am here, an observer and a participant in this grassroots patriotic ceremony which, year after year, remains mostly the same—singing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee;” names of the war dead buried here read; recitation of “In Flanders Fields” and “The Pledge of Allegiance;” and reading of “The Gettysburg Address; and the bugler sounding “Taps.”

Kathleen Kanne reads Walt Whitman's poem, "Reconciliation."

Kathleen Kanne reads Walt Whitman’s poem, “Reconciliation.”

This year, the presentation of Walt Whitman’s “Reconciliation,” the reading of a patriotic-themed newspaper clipping, singing of “Fightin’ Side of Me,” a brief history given of Rice County’s Drum and Bugle Corps and the bugling of “Revelry” are added to the semi formal ceremony.

A soldier's grave, flagged for Memorial Day.

A soldier’s grave, flagged for Memorial Day.

Musician Don Chester leads the musical selections along with his wife, Judy.

Musician Don Chester leads the musical selections along with his wife, Judy.

Between the tombstones, below the flag...

Between the tombstones, below the flag…

Steve Bonde ends the program by playing "Revelry."

Steve Bonde ends the program by playing “Revelry.”

This all presented on the grassy space between aged tombstones in the shadow of the American flag audibly flapping in the breeze. The comparison is not lost on me as Jean Pederson tells of poppies gently swaying in the wind of Flanders Fields.

FYI: To read previous posts on Memorial Day observances at the Cannon City Cemetery, click here and then click here.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling