The Last Windrow: 50-year anniversary of moving north recalled

March 1, 1972, is when the Wetrosky family officially turned from farming to resorting

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

March 1 was an anniversary of sorts for my family. The day marked 50 years since I and my family, including the rat terrier, packed up and moved to northern Minnesota.

March is the traditional time that farmers who had sold out left the farm. The reason being, the new owner needed to get ready to put a new crop in the ground.

And so it was with us. We were delayed two days by a roaring blizzard and the trip to northern Minnesota developed white knuckles along the way. We pulled into our new "homestead" to find three to four foot snowdrifts covering everything in site and the bottom had fallen out of the thermometer.

The year was 1971.

My dad and mom had purchased a resort. Isn't that what a lot of retired farmers do or did? After all, they can fix anything and are generally a friendly lot. Looking out the windows on the sea of snow that covered Pelican Lake, one wondered if there was really water under that ice?


There was and 50 years later there still is water there.

The area to which we moved has changed as well. The small community nearest us and others close by featured many businesses that are no longer present. Most small towns sported a grain elevator that serviced the many small farms then present throughout the countryside.

A convenience store now sits where the local elevator was situated. There were two grocery stores, three hardware stores, a couple of pharmacies and several clothing stores. Sadly, most do not exist today. There were no fast food joints or pizza parlors.

Fifty years ago there was limited television. My cousin, Bob, helped us move and he is an electronics guru. He eagerly hooked up our TV set in our newly invaded living room.

"Hey, I can only get one channel on this thing!" he called out. "There must be something wrong!"

We had been used to five TV channels at our old farmstead so it was with some surprise to find out there really was only one station available, unless you wanted to look through a curtain of snow. The electronic world had not moved to this part of the earth.

We sat down to watch the boys state hockey tournament, knowing nothing about the sport of hockey.

Our home church did have a branch in our neighboring town and the first Sunday after unloading the stock truck, we chose to attend. There had been an unspoken dress code at that rural Iowa church from which we came. Men and boys were expected to wear a full suit and tie, and women and girls donned themselves in appropriate dresses and no slacks. If you showed up in anything other, you were looked over.


And so, we dutifully donned our suits and dresses and headed into town. I'm sure our mouths were agape as we entered the church to see parishioners gathered there wearing flannel shirts and denim jeans. There were some attired in our traditional garb, but many were not.

After we got over that shock, I began to think I was going to like it there in a more relaxed atmosphere. I think we did sign the guest book on our way out at the invitation of a man wearing bib overalls.

My parents called their little resort "Clyde and Millie's Hawkeye Resort," thinking they could bring a little of Iowa with them. Over the 40-plus years they operated, they welcomed thousands of folks to enjoy the beauty of the lake country.

In 1971, Pelican Lake offered at least 10 small family resorts. Today there are no true small resorts operating. The entire lake country has experienced the change. Where small, bare stud walled cabins once stood, now large homes reside.

I find it interesting that many times no humans can be seen in front of those homes. Hawkeye Resort had kids in the water every day from dawn to dark. There were no weeds growing by the swimming beach.

And so, my family will remember that day when the moving truck pulled out of the Iowa driveway and headed north. It has been a great 50 years. Even if we did start out having to watch ice hockey without understanding a bit of it.

See you next time. Okay? Be safe!


John Wetrosky - Last Windrow.jpg

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