The reunion last Sunday with Jim's relatives turned out great. I had more fun than I thought I would, being that I only knew Jim's siblings to start with! The party was well organized and held in a shelter at a county park. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, with temperatures in the low 70's and NO humidity. Jim's father came from a family of 10 children, who in turn had large families, so you could imagine just how many people are on this family tree!
Another night Jim's brother, Ron, invited us out for "buck" burgers. Jim and I both thought that meant "venison".
When we asked Ron, he said, "No, they're burgers for a buck!"
Boy they were good, too! Fried up right behind the bar.
There's nothing like sitting at the bar in a small town up in Minnesota. There's a good chance that a) we're related to someone there or b) Jim went to school with someone there.
The young bartender was easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean, and I told him that I liked his bar but there was only one thing wrong with it.
He looked at me seriously and said, "What?"
I pointed to the Vikings football behind the bar and said "That! I'm from Chicago - I'm a Bears Fan!"
I know - that was bold since Vikings and Bears don't mix. But he just laughed. Hopefully he didn't spit in any of my future drinks.
Yesterday we drove through Jim's home town of Spring Hill.
When Jim lived there the population was up to 150. The town is shaped like a "T". At the bottom of the "T" sits the Church of St. Michael.
It is a beautiful old church that has been around since 1887. The cemetery is located directly behind the church.
The town of Spring Hill was settled mainly by Germans. This says "Rest In Peace" in German.
We paid our respects to Jim's Mom, then moved on to find the graves of relatives. I've always been fascinated by cemeteries. I love to wonder through them, reading the gravestones. I also love to photograph them. I hope this doesn't make me a sick individual.
This angel is situated right inside the gate. It was carved out of a dead tree. I can not imagine carving with a chain saw and ending up with something so beautiful!
Look at this beautiful old fence that surrounds the grave yard. It is black wrought iron and has tiny crosses all along the top.
I bet this fence is really old. The handle to the gate just called to me.
On the other side of the church was the house that Jim's parents lived in for 27 years. Before that they had a 200 acre farm which they sold all but about one acre and built this house, right across from the church and right in town.
At the top of the "T" is this little country store.
Now you wouldn't do your big grocery shopping here, but if you needed a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk, you could just run down to the corner and pick it up. The store is in the front of the owner's house. They'd leave the door open to their living room, with the TV on, and when a customer would walk in, they'd get up and come into the store. And you want to hear something really crazy? The townspeople would run a tab for their groceries. We'd be at Jim's parents house on a holiday and run out of milk or something and his Mom would tell me to "put it on her tab". My kids would LOVE it when Grandma and Grandpa told them to go to the store and buy some candy and "put it on Grandpa's tab". I'm telling ya, the town was like Mayberry RFD. They even had a party line until the 1980's I believe!
As we pulled out of town, I turned around to see this:
The steeple from St. Michael's. We always knew when we were getting close to Spring Hill. The kids would yell, "I see the steeple!"
I was feeling so melancholy - I longed for the days when my kids were little and Jim's mom was still alive and they lived back in that house. We had so much fun driving out to see them. And even though Grandpa and Grandma didn't live on a farm, it was farm-like.
So as we drove down the country roads,
smelling that fresh "country air" as my husband calls it and taking in sights like this,
with my eyes welling up with tears, my throat closing shut, I knew that Thomas Wolfe WAS right, you can't go home again.