505 and family spent the weekend in a small town in Northern Minnesota. It's not the first time I've ever been to that small town. In 26 years of marriage to a girl from that small town, I've performed many requisite family duties and taken many trips to that polka ridden ghetto of you betcha's, dontcha knows, and yah shure's; and obsessively marvelled at the inordinate amount of four door burgundy colored vehicles that litter their byways.
And..I've got a fair amount of "Home of the Shittiest Weather in the World" T-shirts from that small town. A T-shirt that comes accessorized with a protective gortex rain flap, built-in self-dispensing mosquito repellant, and wool insulation.
But every time I return to that small town, my hope for America is reinvigorated by little things that just don't happen in predominantly Big City America. Little things that help me forget about the exhausting 24/7 pounding of Beck vs. Olberman, Obama vs. me, Walmart vs. anyone with a cash register, and the unpretentious cultural kamikaze nuclear bomb that is the latest billion dollar, go-go dancer infested thunderdome, constructed to satisfy the egos and conspicuously wasteful demeanors of our Jerry Jones' infested Metropolitan America population.
TOP 10 STUFF THAT YOU'LL ONLY FIND IN SMALL TOWN AMERICA.
10/Rather than a cityscape pockmarked by yard signs reading "Make $300.00/hr doing nothing at home", small town yards are pocketed with hand painted signs that read "$3.00 Pancake Breakfast Saturday Morning, 8AM, St. John's Lutheran Church". I love pancakes (with blueberries).
9/Where else will you find a "Farmer's Day Parade" re-broadcast on the local community service TV channel? Featuring two camera angles (one camera..on a swivel), very limited commentary, an off-key HS Marching Band that still sounded great, and enough candy thrown off the makeshift floats (borrowed pickups with appropriate signage and America Flags duct taped onto the hood) to hold the kids over until Halloween? All sponsored by the 3 or 4 dentists in town?. And I would be remiss if I omitted a shoutout to the "8 Synchronized Shriners on Choppers" kicking off the parade with an obnoxiously long demonstration of their motorcycle skills that may well spread fear among the Ohio State Marching Band with their choreography.
8/A Dairy Queen not only open at 945PM on a Sunday night, but staffed by EIGHT cheerful, neatly uniformed, hard working High School age kids servicing what was a parking lot and storefront devoid of any customers (except for me and 505 jr. in need of Dilly Bars). Despite having zero customers at that time of night, every employee in that store was busy with other duties, mopping the floors, bleaching the tabletops, washing windows, and prepping for the next day's business. Without an adult supervisor to be found. The polar opposite of the CUSTOMER DISSERVICE PHILOSOPHY showcased by Alamo Rent a Car, who had ONE employee checking in 20-25 customers on a traditionally busy Friday afternoon in the Minneapolis airport.
7/A 6AM visit to the local Cub Foods allowed me to witness a Pepsi delivery guy helping an older and more frail Coke delivery guy stack his shelves. I wiped the residual morning after alcohol glaze from my eyes twice to verify what I was viewing....and bought a 6 pack of Pepsi instead of my normal and preferred Coca-Cola purchase. (I pray no one from Coke reads this, or else the Coke guy will most likely lose his job).
6/Upon leaving the Cub Foods I was able to drive over to my brother-in-law's house, walk into an open garage (all night) and let myself into the house through the kitchen door without waking any still sleeping kids and adults. If I left the garage door open in 505, everything including the garage door opener would be gone before the last moth dive bombed into the "security" floodlight.
5/A wedding that featured a Catholic priest with a legitimate and enjoyable sense of humor, who was only too happy to perform what I characterized as a "drive thru ceremony" (about 15 minutes), and couldn't wait to get to the reception that followed. Based on this brief encounter, I surmised that he may well be one of the few Catholic priests remaining in America who has a legitimate shot at going to heaven.
4/A reception at the local Fraternal Order of Eagles Club (quelle shock), one of the few (3?) banquet halls in this town large enough to accomodate 100+ people, but unique in that the "wait staff" are volunteers/friends of the family who take turns monitoring the buffet line and cake cutting chores. And hung around to help during the clean up as well. How many of YOUR FRIENDS would volunteer for this kind of wedding day duty in big city America?
3/My first round of cocktails(5 drinks- 2 Captain Cokes, a Vodka Cloudy, 2 Michelob Ultra's) for the family at the Eagle's Club reception ran me the paltry sum of $10.25, plus $2.00 tip for the free pouring, heavy handed, hot looking bartender. (27 years old and already a mother four times...yet she could easily grace the cover of many a men's magazine). The same order placed at any big city reception hall would have seen me kissing a Ben Franklin buh-bye. And the hot looking bartender would have had a lawyer on hand to immediately file alcohol induced sexual harassment lawsuits.
2/A groom's family that happily (and too cheerfully?) cemented the brand spanking new family bonds initiated via this conjugation of our parent's/grandparents/the olden folks when they stepped up for Miss 505 after some out of town pipeline workers took some testerone and alcohol infected "liberties" (a little verbal sparring turned kinda off color) with her in the public bar adjoining the Eagle's Reception Hall. I can count on the fingers of a centipede's hands how many times opposing families left wedding receptions fighting with each other in big city affairs.
1/One of the 3 Andy Griffiths on duty that night in this small town, responded to the "near riot" (nothing violent occurred, just a lot of threats, kinda like a soccer brawl) in the bar and provided my daughter and her fiance with a ride in the back of his police vehicle to their hotel...... a whole 2 blocks away. Sorry, but I guess I never saw the episode when Adam 12's Marty Milner or Kent McChord drove patrons home from a bar in Los Angeles.
"Taught the fear of "geezus" in a small town...
...Had myself a ball in a small town."
Thanks to the Frances Gumm Museum in Grand Rapids MN., for the picture of her still standing modest little adorable house. No one looked better in red shoes better than she. But for the record, I still have no use for Toto....the dog or the band.