Tricounty News

Echoes down a half-century, Part 2: 'Cupid and His Arrows'

Happy Valentine's Day. I'm reminded that my introduction to Cupid and his arrows was during my tenth year, at school in Kimball. Whether South Africa didn't celebrate Valentine's Day, or whether I simply had no exposure to it-particularly in my all-boys school-1959 was the year a whole new stairway opened. The rule at school was that if you were bringing valentine cards and candy to school-and everyone did-you had to bring equally for all classmates. Equal distribution didn't mean equal feelings for each name I carefully scribed on my collection of cards. And it didn't keep me from carefully pondering the wording on that card from the doctor's daughter, on whom I had a crush, to see if there was any indication of a special sentiment. The twenty-first century is a totally different world of amore, but by and large in 1959, attraction between the sexes at age 10 was not defined so much by a relationship between a boy and a girl, but between a boy and his male friends. That is to say, it was primarily an opportunity for other guys to tease and embarrass a star-struck young Romeo in every possible way: Tulips in the garden; Tulips in the park; But the tulips that Duane likes, Are two lips in the dark. It was also the opportunity for the less sophisticated to absorb from more enlightened comrades a whole new vocabulary, not to mention bewildering concepts. Such was the spring and summer of '59 for me. I learned the "birds and the bees" details that year, out behind the barn. Well, O.K., it really was behind the garage in the little woods not far from the barn. I wasn't sure if my more worldly-wise friend was feeding me a line or whether to believe him. After all, two older brothers hadn't shared this startling information. And of course, television never gave a hint, always presenting a couple's bedroom with twin beds. Through the years, I think I kinda treasured the fact that my enlightenment came in that old-fashioned way: out behind the barn. A farming community has a much more natural curriculum on such things than a missionary home environment, where not even subtle double entendres would have been heard. I was a little uncomfortable just hearing Grandpa Lafe refer to "stripping the teet" as he prepared for milking, or seeing the hired man at Merton's farm demonstrate his skill of squeezing a sharp squirt of milk right between a cow's legs and into the barn-cat's face, ten feet away. Speaking of that hired man (I had better not name names here), he taught me a little poem that might very well have been enough to lose him his job if his straight-laced employer had any idea what had been passed on to his innocent nephew. While my ears burned at the recitation of this literary masterpiece, I admit I have not forgotten a syllable in 50 years. Young Romeos are no match for their namesake. I do confess my fickleness. A second infatuation bowled me over by the time summer was under way-a true and pure romance. I think that really means that not only did I have a crush on her, but she knew it, and we spent a fair amount of time enjoying activities together. But the course of true love never did run smooth-and such was my plight during the weeks of a summer triangle. My best buddy, Colin Robinson, also set his cap for the preacher's niece, who never chose between the competitors, rather suggesting she enjoyed both equally. Bonnie came to Kimball that summer as a guest of her uncle and aunt, Ken and Shirley Broad, who lived in the parsonage and ministered to the Church of Christ where we were active. Sunday school class introduced the two suitors to the young beauty with her vibrant French Louisiana personality. I remember her last name; I just never learned to spell it. It all seemed quite spiritual and enticing as she provided a memory cue. It was a Biblical invitation: "Duhon to others as you would have them Duhon to you." Church doors were never locked in 1959. The ping-pong table in the church basement was always ready for use, though one was wise enough to bring a ball. The distance from the little grey house to the church seemed shorter during those fleeting warm months. Of course, it was more complicated if brother Michael didn't want to go play ping-pong and I had to invite my competition to meet me at the church. Drop-in guests were always welcome at the parsonage, and we were happy to take advantage. Perhaps Shirley had to bake considerably more cookies and buy double the milk supply for a couple of months as she provided nourishment for her niece's pre-teen admirers. I was never more eager for Vacation Bible School and all things church than in the summer of '59. But too soon the summer wound to an end and Bonnie vanished from Kimball to that enchanted land where such princesses can live eternally, never changing, never aging. Not so with mere maturing mortals. * * * * * * * Historic Forts will be the subject of Kimball Area Historical Society meeting and program at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, Feb. 24, in Kimball's historic city hall. Speaker and Forest City Stockade representative Bob Hermann will tell the stories of the historic Forest City Stockade and its reconstruction. We'll learn about 40 such fortifications built by Minnesota settlers during the Dakota War, including Maine Prairie's just before that community moved to Kimball. Come celebrate history together for this outstanding free, open-to-the-public evening, followed by special refreshments and memories. You can help save Kimball's heritage. Become a member of the Kimball Area Historical Society during the 2009 Membership Drive. This is another friendly reminder that 2009 membership renewals are also needed. Consider buying a friend or relative a gift membership. Thank you for your support! Very soon Phase Three of Kimball's showcase City Hall restoration begins, completing the first step of moving indoors. The classic on Main Street is known for being the only active city hall in Stearns County on the National Register of Historic Places. It's no wonder, as the preservation continues, that residents and visitors alike are proud and committed to the finish. Thank you for inspiring everyone with your ongoing commitments and tax-deductible donations. To find out how you can be involved in the Kimball Area Historical Society, secure keepsake souvenirs and cookbooks, contribute a story for this column and/or the permanent society collection, city hall donations or become members, please contact us at Box 100, Kimball MN 55353 or call (320) 398-5743 or 398-5250 anytime. * * * * * * *