Oh, the people you’ll see

Billie Shelton

Last weekend I took a little trip north for an overnight, driving on one of those wonders of modern transportation: the interstate highway. Fast, direct, no muss, no fuss. Not even any potholes that I noticed.

There’s also not much to see. Oh, I do have landmarks that I study each time I go by, like the tall sculpture made from graduated sizes of one-bottom plows stacked one atop the other that sits next to a lovely landscaped farm pond.

I know I’m barely into Minnesota when I pass the Round Prairie Lutheran Church. The white frame church sits up imposingly high close to the interstate, or at least it appears that way when driving past. The sign beside it announces that the church was founded in 1856. I always assume those stalwart founders were Scandinavian farmers, Lutherans who didn’t want their church moved, or to be replaced by a new one in a different location, even for the progress of a four-lane highway.

I do like the name of that church. In those quiet moments alone in my car, I find myself wondering if that’s what the rural neighborhood was known as when the church started. Or maybe it still is today. And then I ponder just what those old Lutheran farmers would think of all those vehicles whizzing by so close to their church.

Usually when I’m headed north I stop at the same large convenience store for gas. It is a prime place to watch people coming and going, most of them probably in a hurry to get back on the interstate. Sometimes I notice vehicles, too, and what they’re towing. Since it’s close to a large recreational lake, there are always flashy boats on trailers behind even bigger tow vehicles.

On this trip there was all that, but I also noticed a small trailer behind a basic SUV. Looking closer, I saw on the trailer one snowmobile and one jet ski, side by side. A curious combination, to be sure, one that had me speculating on it for miles on up the road.

Then a vehicle pulled up beside me at the next gas pump. Although I’m not a car buff by any stretch, even I knew that this was a Chevrolet Corvette, a classic one at that. I expected some slick-looking guy to get out to pump his gas, but instead he was quite gray and very average. He smoothly extracted his cane from behind his seat as he unwound himself from the low-slung car before he walked steadily but slowly, and with a pronounced limp, into the store.

I think it was Dr. Seuss who wrote, “Oh, the places you’ll go …” He could have added, “and the people you’ll see.” Especially, perhaps, on an interstate highway.


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