Minnesota Nice


I’m watching Bill O’Reilly just now; it’s paused* as I type.  He’s mentioning that Irene passed within 8 miles of his house; 8 miles to the WEST!  Jeepers, not many people are able to say that a hurricane passed to the West of ‘em.

Anyway, hes talking about the fact that the storm brought out the best in people.  Folks made an effort to drive to their places of business in order to open for people who didn’t have power.  Profit motive maybe?

Sure, maybe.  But probably not.

I grew up in Minnesota.  We had highway 60 run right through town until the 4-lane came through and moved it outside of city limits.  Winters are, as you would think, harsh brutal affairs.  We would register at the city center and offer to house people who were caught on the highway and couldn’t continue.

Good times.

Once, in college, I suffered a flat tire.  While it was winter, it wasn’t brutally cold, only about 5 or 10 or so.  I changed that tire that night and made my way to the Perkins, open 24 hours.  A few folks were in there including some that knew me from my time tending bar.  They mentioned that they heard I was out on the highway with a flat but that I had the car jacked and was making progress.

While I’m sure that they didn’t keep “a-look-out” for me, it was nice knowing that they knew.  Cars were driving by and knew who I was.  They told other people and they knew to say that to me.

When I taught, I kept a house off the paved road.  While the water was running, it was cistern fed.  I had to have a truck deliver water to my house; I collected rain-water and snow.  I couldn’t cook or drink with t hat water, but hey; small town USA.

One night the neighbor down the way lost his barn in a fire.  The whole scene was filled with neighbors taking care of kids, hustling cattle and horses.  The barn, like I mentioned, was lost.  4 weeks after that fire we had a party at that farm.  A new barn held host to a dance and much beer, love and friendship.

Minnesota, rural Minnesota, even in modern times, is still a place that can sneak up ya.  Neighbors act decent because we’re a community.  We know that we may be needed to deliver food, or labor or donate a horse or sheep.

Most of America is like this.  Or would be like this if blizzards hit like they hit in Minnesota.  Or if flat tires meant danger, like in Minnesota.  People care, they wanna help their neighbor.  They want to know that the place they live is a good place.  Where you are cared for even as you care.

I wonder why we don’t think that’s the case?

*  Paused.  Awesome.  My children have never watched TV that they couldn’t pause.  I had 4 channels in total until I was 13.  We did have a color TV, but it had knobs.  The days…

2 comments
  1. We stayed at a hotel and my kids were mad that the hotel had a TV that couldn’t paused. “Why would they make one that can’t pause?!” my eight year old demanded! Gee, I remember that before I was 8 and we got color the highlight of visiting my Grandma in Mankato was that she had color and even early cable TV (she could pull in Minneapolis stations!)

    Here in Maine I once slipped off the road into a ditch. I called AAA and waited. It was on a two line rural highway. While I was waiting 42 cars passed. While I was waiting 42 cars stopped to see if I needed any help. Even a lady with two kids in car seats pulled over. I told them all thanks, but I had someone coming. It made me feel really good about the people here in Maine. I also know that stretch of highway 60, having taken it many times from Worthington to Madelia. I also remember before they bypassed the towns and we’d go through each of them (we’d always get Dairy Queen in Mountain Lake. At St. James we’d get off 60 and veer down a county road that passes LaSalle because it was quicker to my Grandparents farm.

    Once in South Dakota I was driving to visit a girlfriend who lived in Java — the north central part of the state. It was New Years Eve, and a deep fog hit. I ran out of gas. A guy in a truck delivering booze pulled over, hooked up my car to his truck and took me to the next town. He delivered his stuff to a bar (can’t remember the town) and found someone there who ran the gas station. He took my car to the station and the guy sold me gas. The truck driver said, “happy new year” and drove away. I really think people are good. Deep down, we want to help and connect, it’s just that the social scenery often pushes us to act differently.

    • pino said:

      It made me feel really good about the people here in Maine.

      Yup. It’s nice living in a world where people are nice. Which explains why we live in a nice world.

      we’d always get Dairy Queen in Mountain Lake

      We used to go to Mountain Lake for their parade. Also stopped at that DQ.

      At St. James we’d get off 60 and veer down a county road that passes LaSalle because it was quicker to my Grandparents farm.

      I used to run that road. Our track.cross country coach lived in LaSalle and would gather us after school and tell us to “run the LaSalle road”. That meant we took off down that little county road and run until he came to pick us up in his crappy blue farm pickup.

      Many times we ran by the location where they caught the Younger Brothers. Sometimes we actually made it to LaSalle itself.

      I really think people are good. Deep down, we want to help and connect, it’s just that the social scenery often pushes us to act differently.

      They are. When I moved to Seattle, my friend and I took side roads as much as we could. What normally is a 2 day trip on I-90 took us 2-weeks. It was epic. We tried to stop in each town and have a beer. Needless to say there were some very interesting folks along the way; and they were each, in their own way, good people.

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