Ya you betcha we can be turned into Minnesotans

Columnist Steve Lange and his family moved to Rochester 22 years ago. He chronicles 22 moments that turned them into residents.

Oddchester - Steve Lange column sig

Twenty-two years in Rochester.

And 22 chronological moments that, for whatever reason, have made us appreciate where we live, and have, slowly, turned us into Minnesotans.

1. Wife Lindy and I, with 1-year-old daughter Hadley, move from Michigan to a Rochester apartment in early 2000. We figure we’ll be here for a “two-year stint,” tops. Before we leave, a group of Michigan friends give us a going-away package: a box covered in photos of Jesse Ventura and filled with wild rice, chokecherry jelly, and electric socks. They make us watch “Fargo.”

2. I drive to Pine Island to look at houses. Because I think it’s an island.

3. A coworker tells me my first Ole and Lena joke. He does both voices.


LENA: Hey Ole! I made ya two dishes for supper. Vun is Svedish meatballs and da utter is lime Yell-o. Here dey are!

OLE: Vich is vich, Lena?

ME: I honestly have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.

4. Lindy and I eat our first meal at Michael’s, the restaurant classic. Lindy, when taking her first bite of the au gratin potatoes, moans with pleasure in a way that makes others around us uncomfortable.

5. We try lutefisk for the first time. Lindy is silent.

6. We take daughter Hadley, 4, to her first Hal Martin All-Comers Meet, the kid-friendly races with a 50-year tradition. She stops halfway through the race to tell us how much fun she’s having.

7. Hadley tells us that, at a friend’s party, she played a game called “Duck Duck Gray Duck.” I’m tempted to call that child’s parents and explain that the game’s official name is “Duck Duck Goose.”

8. The most Minnesotan Craigslist ad imaginable, posted on the morning of the Rochesterfest Parade: “Free! Tons of blankets and chairs left abandoned on side of the road along the Rochesterfest parade route. First come first serve!”


9. Son, Henry, 9, is playing second base in an RYBA game, and a line drive hits him in the throat. Henry’s coach is a general practitioner. The opposing team’s coach is an emergency room nurse with a medical bag in her trunk. A parent in the stands is an ear/nose/throat specialist. Henry, lying in the infield, gets better treatment than he would have at many small-town ERs. Spoiler alert: He turns out fine.

10. In 2011, the Weekly World News runs a story with the following headline: “Cap’n Crunch at Mayo Clinic for diabetes.”

11. On April 30, 2013, the temps are in the 70s. On May 2, we get 14 inches of snow.

12. We eat our last meal at Michael’s, just before it closes for good. We show our kids the wall of celebrity photos. “Look, kids, there’s Danny Kaye! And Jason Robards!”

13. When Lindy orders the au gratin potatoes (see above), I’m tempted to warn the adjacent tables.

Next week: Those Minnesota-making moments, No. 14 through No. 22. Like the time Steve received a call from a Mayo endocrinologist with a concern about someone pictured in Rochester Magazine. And then had to call a woman he barely knew and ask her about her neck.

Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

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