DAY 9 – WEDNESDAY JULY 17

GRAND RAPIDS TO JACOBSON

When I was a kid, Jacobson was this neat place with a high truss bridge by a wayside rest along a river. We passed through on our way to Hill City. I always wanted to stop, but I was in the back seat of a ’72 Chevy Kingswood wagon and didn’t have access to the steering wheel or brakes. 

Yesterday, I was in the driver’s seat – a bicycle seat. Jacobson here we come . . .

The Jacobson Farmer’s Hall (now called the Community Center) was conceived and built by Victor Bjorkquist and a group of Finnish immigrants about 100 years ago. It was a meeting place for business, planning, socializing and building a community. It’s gratifying to see that it still serves these purposes today . . . and even non-Finns are welcome!

We arrived mid-morning, interrupting the Bone Builders – an exercise group organized by Pat Williams. The Relay of Voices interviews were up next, followed by a communal lunch. Book club was later that day. The Jacobson Seniors will meet here tomorrow morning.

We met in the kitchen area – downstairs and in back of the main hall. The room quickly filled with strangers who would soon become friends; Tom and Marsha Loscheider, Pat Williams, Karen Mlaker (we met husband Ed later that evening), Bob and Pat Jarvi (Victor’s grandson and his wife), Marty Tolvanen, Pearle Michelson and Harriet Suomala (setting out lunch as we talked). 

As we talked, their individual voices blended into a story. The story of Jacobson – the rich history and the rhythms of the present day. We understood the daily, weekly and yearly routines of this place as well as concerns and optimism about the future. So many stories and not enough time to tell them fully. Check out a future blog to learn more about this special community on the river. 

The day continued with a trip to Palisade, accompanied by our new collaborator, Bob Jarvi. Victoria and I jumped into Bob’s pickup truck for a narrated ride down river. We couldn’t have asked for a better guide.

Bob stopped to pick up hamburger buns (and ice cream) while we dropped into the Palisade Town hall to meet Monique Lamke, the City Clerk. You’ll hear more about Monique when we get to Palisade on Day 10.

Bob took us out to the Corps of Engineers dam at Big Sandy Lake to meet his friend, Tammy Frauenshuh. Bob and his wife Pat have become friends with Tammy through their volunteer work here. She gave us a tour of the dam and a sobering history lesson along the way. 

Please take time to learn about the Sandy Lake Tragedy and visit the Mikwendaagoziwag Memorial when you’re in the area. We didn’t learn about this in school.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Lake_Tragedy

Stopped at Kent Lorenzen’s on the way back to Jacobsen. Kent has a long family history in the area and moved here from Golden Valley a long time ago. He’s a renaissance man in the truest sense – a farmer, cook, photographer, naturalist, on-line entrepreneur, woodsman and oh, by the way . . . he creates crossword puzzles for the New York Times. He spends his days in the garden and twice a week he hauls produce to Grand Rapids for the farmer’s market. A market he created and continues to help organize. Wow!

Back to Jacobson for venison burgers and cheesy potatoes at the Jarvi’s – joined by Karen, Ed and Marty. Then a short walk across the road to the Jacobson Community Center where we spent a restful night.

One last thing about the Farmer’s Hall and Community Center . . . at the front of the main hall is a raised stage. 

Against a backdrop of 100 year old tongue and groove woodwork, flanked by the US and Minnesota flags, hangs a beautiful painted stage curtain. It is the focal point of the hall, the focal point of the building and the focal point of this place – Jacobson, Minnesota.

The curtain depicts a river.