You Can Go Home Again

Posted: Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I started feeling a little homesick on Friday which is odd since I haven’t lived in my ancestral home since 1965.
I’ve been back to Volga many times since then, of course, but I’ve never really made time to check out some of the places that were such a major part of my life as a kid…so I jumped in the car..told Linda I’d be back in a few hours..and headed north to satisfy my curiosity.
I got off the interstate at the Elkton/Sinai exit and drove west five miles to the farm place my brother Denny and his wife, Judy, fixed up back in the 80’s when they decided to leave the rat race of Sioux Falls and raise llamas. They did pretty well too..but then the popularity and profitability of llama farming ended as quickly as it had begun and they ended up selling out and moving back to the city.
I headed north on the oil road five miles into Volga..but first a stop at First Lutheran Cemetery. I can hardly believe the way it looks today from when I was young. It used to be like a city park with so many stately trees. Now most of them, like the underground inhabitants of this place, have died off from disease and old age leaving a once picturesque place of solemn serenity..rather bare and open to the elements. 
 A few stubborn spruces..planted about the same time as the first dead Norwegians,.still remain though..making that melancholy melody whenever the prairie wind whistles through the pine needles.
It seems like there’s more clover than grass around the folk’s headstone which is listing east.
Entering town from the South I drive past First Lutheran Church looking as majestic as ever. So many memories here and not all having to do with church services and Sunday School. It was here where we had our pre-high school prom banquets. It was here I, and hundreds of other kids, received our polio shots and it was here I used to embarrass my cousin in the choir loft during Sunday sermons making fart sounds with my hands.
Driving up Kasan Avenue (our main street) it’s comforting to know that the city Auditorium is still there after 71 years..proving that some WPA projects have stood the test of time.
It could sure use a scrape down and a new paint job, though. Maybe there’s some government stimulus money for that somewhere.
Across the street is the oldest building in town..or at least the oldest front façade. 
E.C. Lee and Brothers was your one stop shopping center for farm equipment, furniture and funerals.  My uncle, Conrad Lee was the "brother" that operated the funeral end of the business.
I first learned to put catsup on French fries at the Silver Bell Café.  It’s also where I picked up a bundle of Argus Leader newspapers every evening to be delivered around town. The café is long gone except for the faded sign.
The water tower is the tallest structure in town. It was built when I was in high school and, on a dare one night, I climbed to the top and stood with the beacon light blinking between my feet. I shudder now just thinking about what a dangerous and dumb thing that was to do.
Before driving by our old house, I stopped at the local tavern and bumped into an old classmate.. which, I suppose, is redundant. Anyway we shared a beverage a memory or two and some laughs..then it was time to visit the home place.
I took a few pictures but only one turned out..a shot from the alley.
Just as well because it doesn’t look the same and that’s depressing.
But it’s somebody else’s house now.
I just wish they’d have kept mom’s garden out back that she was so proud of.Oh, yeah..I spent the afternoon visiting with Steve Hemmingsen at his Lake Hendricks mansion. More about that later this week.

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