Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The Tin Man (or woman) in need of a heart July 28, 2022

The Tin Woman sculpture from Lockerby Sheet Metal lies outside the log cabin at the Rice County Historical Society in Faribault where she will be placed. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

WHENEVER I THINK of a tin man, I think of three specifics: The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, The Tin Man and his family in Faribault, and the absence of a heart.

This Lockerby Sheet Metal Tin Man awaits reassembly outside the county museum. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

In the classic tale by L. Frank Baum, The Tin Man is in need of a heart, or love. The Scarecrow needs a brain. And the Lion needs courage.

The family includes a baby in a buggy. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Now you can take away whatever you want from Baum’s book, for there are, indeed, many take-aways. But the basics of love, knowledge and courage stick all the way along The Yellow Brick Road to The Emerald City.

The Tin Woman, up close with her vivid red lips. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

I wish I didn’t believe this to be true. But too often these days I see heartless Tin Man after heartless Tin Man (you may also insert “woman” here) following a narrow pathway of self-focus with no regard for others. There’s no self-awareness of how actions, words, decisions hurt others. Or perhaps, more accurately, there’s no care for how others are affected by what we say or do. That can apply in business, in politics, in relationships, in friendships, in families…

The family even has a dog. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Sometimes I feel like our collective hearts are missing or atrophying and we really ought to work harder at being kinder, more caring, more considerate, more loving. Better people. Period.

The Tin Man and Woman stand outside Lockerby Sheet Metal in September 2010, when the Straight River flooded. That event devastated the business. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo September 2010)

That leads me to The Tin Man and his family in Faribault. A few weeks ago I photographed them at the Rice County Historical Society, where they’ve been hanging out for awhile. Originally, their home was at Lockerby Sheet Metal, which closed abruptly in October 2018 after 110 years in business in Faribault. I’m thankful this family found a new home at the RCHS. They are local icons.

A sign on the Rice County Historical Society states its goal. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo July 2022)

Keeping this family together, recognizing their collective value, says something about the heart of a community. Locals care about The Tin Man and family from an historic, artistic and business perspective. And, perhaps, also from a love perspective. These creations of Lockerby Sheet Metal can visually represent community love. Yes, that’s the marketing, creative and hopeful side of me writing.

This knight metal art sculpture from Lockerby Sheet Metal stands inside the RCHS entry. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

Even as I believe too much heartlessness exists in today’s world, I also believe that we are capable of growing our love for one another, of strengthening our hearts. Rather than follow a self-focused narrow Yellow Brick Road, we can pause, stop, consider. Pause. Stop. Consider. When we recognize how our words and actions affect others, then we no longer rattle around like a Tin Man (or Woman) without a heart.

THOUGHTS?

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling