In the last three months, StoryCorps recorded interviews in six different towns in the land of 10,000 lakes. While partnering with the Great River Regional Library of Minnesota, we recorded in Annandale, Elk River, St. Cloud, Melrose, Little Falls and Staples. We heard stories from all walks of life — including farmers, mothers, teachers, nurses, doctors, and soldiers of Central Minnesota.
Our partner, the Great River Regional Library, is a group of thirty-two branch libraries that provide books, materials, computers, programming and information services to almost 450,000 residents. The branch libraries are a source of knowledge and information in their communities, and for March, April and May they were our host family.
In our visit to Staples, Carol Weber, 63, came with her husband Rick Weber, 64, and her mother-in- law, Mrs. Marlys Weber, 87. During their interview, Mrs Marlys talked about her heritage, meeting her husband and her family. Halfway into their interview, Rick and Mrs. Marlys talked about how Ernie, Marlys’ husband, started the family business. “Ernie’s Food Market” was different than most grocery stores in Staples, MN. At that time, most grocery stores had a person that would take their order in, the order would be filled for them and the customer paid for it at the counter. Ernie started the first self service grocery store in Staples, and for a while it even provided both services.
Mrs. Marlys also described how she helped her husband stocking the store and how Ernie’s Food Market keeps growing and growing. Ernie retired and currently Ernie’s Food Market has a different owner, but it is still the town’s main grocery store and still has the neon sign to let you know who used to own it.
To learn more about The Great River Regional Library, please visit http://www.griver.org/
Barbara Andrews came to StoryCorps to do something slightly different than most people do. Instead of having a conversation with a loved one, Barbara used her 40 minutes to record a letter in sound to her granddaughter, Megan. Barbara began, “Megan, when you were a little girl, you always wanted me to tell you a story about when I was a girl. This is the way I remember it.”
Our playhouse was the body of an old Model-T Ford. We put water in the radiator and could turn a little spigot so we had running water. This house was like Laura Ingalls Wilder. There was no electricity or running water, so you know the kind of bathroom we had.
Barbara spoke about meeting her husband, George, and having a large family. Toward the end of the recording, Barbara started to talk about “the old brown house at Bass Lake.” Barbara and George lived in the house for more than 50 years and raised many children and grandchildren there. To her, it was “a paradise.” But after the kids moved away and George died, the house was different.
Now the old brown house is really quiet. There are no longer sounds of laughter or fighting or playing or babies crying. There’s nobody singing and no more sounds of cooking or cleaning in anticipation of coming company. But then when I am really quiet in my own heart, I begin to hear those beautiful sounds again. I hear the creaking of the old rocking chair where I sat and held sick babies. I can hear the soft sounds of Grandpa George as he attempts to get ready to leave for work without waking me.
As Barbara got older, it became harder for her to stay at the old brown house, and recently, she decided to move into town.
After all those years it was really hard to leave the old brown house at beautiful Bass Lake. But with the love and support of my family and friends, I find myself very content in the little white house which we are busy filling with many good memories.