When I was growing up we couldn’t wait until we could go to Minneapolis/St. Paul. My dad was born in Minnesota and I have always felt like I have dual citizenship of both Montana and Minnesota. We have relatives there so everytime we went there it was a big free for all of bunches of aunts, uncles and cousins. My paternal grandpa lived in a little cabin at Bemidji and we would go see him. He had been a widower since my dad was 11 so I had never known my paternal grandmother. My grandpa always wore dark blue overalls with a western type shirt underneath. I always thought of him as being exceptionally tall, but I now know that it was only because I was a child. He wasn’t incredibly tall, maybe 6′ 1″ but he was thin as a rail.
He spent as much time outdoors as he could and I think he just worked off every calorie he ever took in. His favorite things to eat were beans and pancakes and those were two things he could cook very well. He said he ate them because nothing else had the staying power like beans and pancakes did.
There was never a boring time. We would go swimming in the lake and when we came back to the cabin we would have pancakes made by my Grandpa T. He was right, pancakes do “stay with you” until your next meal. Now, you realize I’m reaching way back in my “vintage” cobwebs to retrieve this information so some of it is going to be kind of fuzzy.
At Bemidji I remember going to a sort of outdoor museum which featured Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. I was around 10 years old when we were there. What I remember is how cool it all was. I know somewhere in my mom’s boxes of photos there are pictures of my two brothers and I standing by Babe. He was very impressive.
My memories of the Minneapolis area are of a beautiful city. Everywhere we went there was another lake to see. My dad always had a great time in Minnesota. He was a fisherman first. He lived and breathed fishing. My uncle would be busy working and my dad would gather all the kids (10 in all) and take us fishing. He always knew where the kids were and could keep an eye on every kid to make sure no one was going to be hurt.
The last time I was in Minneapolis was when I was 16 years old. We were going to go “one more time.” That year my older brother had joined the Army and this was a sort of last “hurrah” before he left for the military. The drive from Glendive was 600 miles and took a few days to get there. We always stopped and visited with my dad’s older sister and her family; both going to “the cities” and coming back. I don’t know really remember ever having troubles making the long drive. It was always an adventure and my mom had trained us young as to the proper behavior in the car. Yessir, either we shut up or we would be put out on the side of the road and we could walk. I’m not kidding, she actually pulled all three of us out of the car one time when we wouldn’t stop fighting, and made us stand at the side of the road and drove away. We never fought after that, we learned clapping games and performed those, we would read or color or even just listen to the radio. Fighting was a big no-no.
Whenever we travelled anywhere, my two brothers each took a window in the back seat and I would either sit between them or I would just lay up on the shelf in the back window. That was an area I fit into just perfectly and it worked because each of us then had our own window. At night I would lay there and look at the stars. I always waited for August to come around. That was when “falling stars” were at their best.
My first introduction to mall type shopping was at Minneapolis. This, of course, was way before the Mall of America even existed. My two girl cousins took me to a mall in Bloomington. It was evening and everything was just pretty. As a young girl from a small Montana town I was really impressed with what Minneapolis had to offer. My aunt and my mom took me downtown to a store that had escalators. If my memory is right I think it was a huge Woolworth’s store. Again, I was blown away by the amount of merchandise in the store. I loved the lunch counter, which was bigger than the one in Glendive.
One memory I have is of walking and walking in a park with Minnehaha Creek flowing past. For many years after having been in Minnesota I would dream about that park. I loved the greenness of it and the sound of the water was very relaxing.
When the book “How to Talk Minnesotan” came out I bought it. When I discovered that the word “Whatever” is pure Minnesotan I cracked up. “Whatever” was my dad’s stock word. When my mom caught dad doing something he shouldn’t be doing, he would shrug his shoulders and mutter, “whatever.” I quickly understood it was a great way of getting yourself out of trouble. I also discovered that lying gets you nowhere fast. I learned that from my brothers. Always tell the truth, but if you’re caught in a trap of your own making, just say “whatever” and shrug your shoulders. That keeps you out of trouble. Ya, Sure, You Betcha!