We drove to Worthington on Wednesday and had a 5:00 am wake-up call to get to Edgerton where I had two classroom visits and an assembly for middle and high school students from four schools, Edgerton Public Middle and High School, Southwest Christian Middle and High School and several adults from the tiny town where I went to third, fourth and fifth grades. Included in the audience were my second cousin, Darlene Bailey and her husband, Bob, and Annabelle, Ernie and Trudy Schellhaas. Annabelle was the other den mother with my mom for the three years I was a Cub Scout.
I had to drive by our old house to see how much the trees had grown my dad planted. I was pleased to see the service door and handle were the original items from when our garage was built almost fifty years ago! They were proudly made in America. I spent about an hour with a former neighbor, Rick Vanderstoep, at his furniture store, which he co-owns with his brother, Curt, who played basketball, baseball and football for my dad. I drove around town and thoroughly enjoyed seeing houses, stores and points of interest I remembered as a young boy.
It was almost two hours after the school day had ended before I finally left Edgerton. I took a different route back to Worthington and found another quaint little town, Kenneth, population 67. There was a cute little antique store with a ramp. It is called The Backyard Antiques and More. I cannot pass an accessible antique store and not stop!
I found out from the owner the building was the former post office so it was newly remodeled, complete with a nice ramp and full of things I could not live without! Did I buy anything, you ask. Of course, I did, Silly. So did my attendant, Kelly. She had never seen anything like Kenneth and The Backyard Antiques and More. An hour later, we were back on the road to Worthington. It took us four hours to get forty-five miles from Edgerton back to our hotel in Worthington! I was in no hurry and this post will probably be the basis for a chapter in my next book!
Friday was a marketing day, so I spent it at a pep fest at the high school, sold a couple books to the media center, and made a couple other stops before going to Center Sports to make sure we were set for my book signing the next day. Then, the fun started!
I stopped at The Cow's Outside which is a little leather goods store located in a cool, old 1901 bank building to see Bill and Lori Keitel who had played a key role in getting my book signing arranged in Worthington. Bill had already left the store to go home and prepare for friends coming over for dinner.
Since their house was only two blocks away, I drove down there to thank him, leave and get a quick meal before going to the high school football game. It did not happen like that! Bill was in the house working, saw me arrive, so we went into this well-sculpted back yard that was obviously built and maintained by two artists!
They were preparing for their good friends, Jim and Judy Brandenburg to come by. Yes, THAT Jim Brandenburg! I was privileged enough to spend the next two hours swapping stories with one of the greatest nature photographers of all time! He had great stories about his trips all over the world.
Brian Korthals was also there and he is a successful photographer in his own right. Jim is also one of his mentors. He is the third person in this picture:
Brian now has Jim's old job at the Worthington Daily Globe and has a history of taking my picture at Turkey Day. He also shot me the next day while I gave my speech. Jim insisted I hold my book, which has one of his photos in the background, and Tom Wallace, who is now a very successful photographer for the Minneapolis StarTribune, who was mentored by Jim Brandenburg, took the color photo.
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Those two hours were the highlight of many highlights on my trip to two of my past lives. Turkey Day was a whole other story!
Saturday started out with a quick speech at Mayor Alan Oberloh's Turkey Day brunch, then Kelly and I rushed to set-up for my book signing at Center Sports from 10:00 am to noon. We grabbed a quick bite and it was time to get me on to the stage with a front-end loader. That was a first!
I rode in the parade tied down by the red straps you can see in this photo by Doug Jenkins:
Again, click on this image to make it larger:
After the parade, they set-up a booth for me to sell books and take orders since my publisher did not get my book order to Worthington until Monday. That was frustrating!
I spent several hours there, then moved out to the Nobles County Fairgrounds and got more orders there. I had very few times during the afternoon and evening that I went more than five minutes when someone came up and introduced themselves.
I recognized many of the people, which surprised some folks who thought I would not remember them. I was having a great time! It was the fortieth reunion for the Class of 1972, so there were many friends I got to spend time with people like Lynn, Alan, Pete and Peg, Dale and June, Denny and Margaret, to name just a few.
By 9:00 pm I was exhausted and it was off to the hotel. I had a great time and I would like to thank everyone who helped make my trip a success.
As always, I welcome your comments.