The last dance: After 66 years, Turkey Trotters to disband

posted Nov 26, 2017, 6:16 AM by Dan Rautenkranz

Chuck and Jackie Moore
Don and Bernice Camery

“Bow to the partner, bow to the corner, join hands, circle to the left, circle to the right ’til you get back home …”

In its heyday, the Turkey Trotters square dance club would fill a dance floor with 20 squares of eight members each. Today, the membership has dwindled to just nine people — barely enough to fill one square — and when the snowbirds head south for the winter, the membership drops to three.

The declining interest in square dancing is forcing the club to fold next month, 67 years after Don and Mae Garberson of Worthington and Bunny and Bonnie Sunderman of Windom first met in Worthington to discuss forming a club.

The Turkey Trotters were christened in the early spring of 1951, with charter members choosing the name to coincide with Worthington’s title as the Turkey Capital of the World. The club, however, was never exclusive to Worthington residents and its dances still attract dancers from South Dakota, Iowa and across southwest Minnesota.

Grace Kay is the last living charter member of the Turkey Trotters, although Bernice Camery joined within a year of the club’s formation. Camery is the oldest and longest-dancing member, and still twirls around the dance floor.

In addition to attending the Turkey Trotters’ dances twice per month, she often accompanies fellow club members Chuck and Jackie Moore to square dances across the region. The Moores are co-presidents of the organization, and have danced with the Turkey Trotters for 37 years.

The demise of the club has been slow and steady, say the trio. Recruitment has always been a challenge.

Camery, who convinced the Moores to join the square dancing group in 1980, said people are just too busy with other things these days. Even luring the Moores to the dance floor took some work on her part.

“I hounded them until Chuck gave in,” Camery said with a twinkle in her eye.

Chuck was working on his doctoral degree at the time, so he and Jackie agreed to join after he completed his studies. The Moores took dance lessons in Slayton with the Murray Mixers, but the Turkey Trotters have always been their club.

Already in the 1980s, it was evident the draw to square dancing wasn’t what it used to be. Camery fondly recalled Monday night lessons with 60 couples in the 1960s. The Moores shared the floor with just 10 other couples when they learned to dance two decades later.

“It really hurts now when there are only nine members of the club,” Camery said. “We just had so many dancers (at one time) and every little town had a club — Lismore, Adrian, Sibley (Iowa), Iona, Round Lake. You could go dancing every night of the week.”

Many of those small town clubs disbanded, and it isn’t just a regional phenomenon.

“Square dancing has declined throughout the U.S.,” Jackie said, noting national conventions that drew more than 20,000 attendees in 1982 had just 8,000 to 9,000 attendees by 2002. That year, Camery said attendance was down because people were afraid to fly after 9-11.

“It’s sad,” said Chuck, a witness to the declining interest in square dancing. He was a caller for dances for the past 11 years. “In the 1980s we had square dancing lessons one night, round dancing a second night and dancing a third night during the week.”

“I said my goal before I retired was to dance eight nights a week,” Camery said with a laugh. “I never quite accomplished that, but I worked at it.”

Her Turkey Trotters name badge — the turkey-shaped pin created by Vernon and Grace Kay in 1964 — has expanded in length over the years with participation badges from events like the National Square Dancers Convention and the 2002 dance on the Wabasha Bridge.

A social event

The slogan for square dancing is “Friendship set to music,” said Camery.

“It’s the people, it’s good entertainment and it’s good exercise,” she said. “It’s endorsed by the American Heart Association, and it’s just such good fellowship. Everyone is there to have a good time, there’s no competition.”

“We have made friends across the state and also friends from the nationals,” added Chuck. He and his wife have also travelled to Crailsheim, Germany and square danced there.

“Don and I have been to (Crailsheim) five times,” added Camery. “They always managed to have a dance while we were there.

“It’s because of the square dancing that we got so well acquainted with the people over there,” she added.

As a club, the Turkey Trotters did more than just square dance when they gathered, and it’s the social aspect club members will miss the most.

Camery said years ago the club had a golf outing and summer picnic to which dancers brought their entire family. It also hosted a February Frolic for several years that Bernice and her husband, Don, planned, and would often get 50 to 60 dancers together to take part in an annual hoedown in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“That’s no longer going, either,” Jackie said.

Up until a few years ago, the Turkey Trotters had an annual entry in the King Turkey Day parade as well.

“We often said, we wonder what our lives would have been like if we hadn’t gotten into square dancing,” Camery shared. “What would we have done all those years?”

Partners on the dance floor

Square dancing is a couple’s activity, but not everyone remaining in the Turkey Trotters still has their spouse to dance with.

After Camery lost her husband, it was the Moores who got her back on the dance floor. Though she and Don had talked about staying involved in the club after one of them was gone, Camery said that first time back was difficult. There were so many memories, and also some worries about who she would partner with.

“She danced every dance that night,” Chuck recalled.

“We agreed that the one was not going to just sit home and mourn the loss of their partner,” Camery said of the deal she made with her husband. “We would keep on volunteering and keep on doing what we were doing and keep on square dancing.”

With the loss of a partner, Camery said several women in the Turkey Trotters have learned to dance the man’s part so they can continue dancing.

“There are a number of single widows and you want to see them dancing,” added Jackie.

“One time they needed a woman and I filled the woman’s part. I think that created more anxiety,” shared Chuck with a smile.

One last dance

The final gathering of the Turkey Trotters will be Dec. 9 in the Farmers Room of the Nobles County Government Center. They will have a light meal at 6 p.m., with dancing from 7 to 9:30 p.m., mixed in with some reminiscing about the club. Dean Fishel, a former Turkey Trotter, will be the caller.

After the final dance, the Moores and Camery say they plan to continue square dancing, though they will have to travel. The nearest square dancing clubs are in Sherburne and Sioux Falls, S.D. Both communities still offer dance lessons to attract others to join in.

“I’m sure they’d welcome you to learn,” said Chuck.

Solts get new fence thanks to help from neighbors, friends

posted Nov 23, 2017, 10:26 AM by Dan Rautenkranz

Zion at the Lakeside Baptist Church. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)
It is said that good fences make good neighbors.

For Kathy and Dale Solt, it is more like good neighbors – and friends and acquaintances – making a good fence.

Over the course of several days in September, more than 20 kids and adults joined together to remove stumps, pour cement for posts and install a chain-link fence so that the Solt’s grandson, Zion, can have a safe place to run around and play.

Zion, 4, lives with his grandparents and big sister, Jorgia, and has since he was an infant when his mother, Jerusha, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 40. At the time, Jorgia was 9 and their older sister, Jacie, was 14. The kids and their mom lived in Pennsylvania along with their father, but when Jerusha became ill she and the kids moved back home to have the support of extended family.

Lending a hand

It was late February 2013 when Jerusha was diagnosed, and they came back to Minnesota shortly thereafter. Jerusha and baby Zion then went down to the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Tulsa, Okla., taking Kathy with them. Dale’s sister lent a hand with the girls while Kathy was away.

Kathy narrated the story simply.

“I stayed with her down there until they said they wouldn’t be able to do anything more for her,” she said. “And then they flew us home.”

It was late March. For the next month and a half Kathy was Jerusha’s primary care giver, though family members and Compassionate Care also lent a hand. Jerusha passed away on the seventh of May, approximately three months after learning her diagnosis.

Through it all, little Zion was at his mother’s side.

“It was difficult to try to keep a baby happy and settled,” Kathy admitted.

Ever since then, keeping Zion and his sisters happy and settled has been the primary goal of Kathy and Dale’s everyday life — along with the usual commitments, family matters and day-to-day needs that they face as a retired couple. They’re happy to do it, but it’s not always easy in part because Zion — now 4½ — has Down Syndrome.

“Zion loves to be outside,” Kathy explained. “He needs that outlet. But it was hard to let him go outside and not be continually worried for his safety. He’s so fast. He even figured out how to start the truck. And even though we keep the back door locked, he problem-solves and figures out how to get what he wants. He figured out how to get the key by knocking it down with a broom handle.”

Help arrives

The issue of Zion’s activity level was the topic of conversation for Kathy one day last summer as she sat outside with Zion at one of Jorgia’s softball games. She was sitting beside Krista Peterson, whose daughter is on the same team, and Kathy expressed a desire to put up a fenced-in area for Zion to be able to play in. A safe place to hold the playground equipment they had. A place where he could run around and not be in danger of running onto the road.

“We were visiting and I said we’d like to be able to put up a fence,” Kathy said. “He’s so fast, and we’re not. Jorgia can catch him, but we can’t.”

Then, at the start of the 2017 softball season, Peterson checked back with Kathy to see if the fence had yet become a reality. It hadn’t. So Peterson decided to do something about it.

“I talked to my church to see if there was money available,” Peterson said. “Jerusha had been the youth minister at Westminster Presbyterian and that was a connection. But it was also a great opportunity for our kids to see that we can help people that they know. Mission trips help people far away, but we can help out right here in our own town.”

Westminster Presbyterian stepped up and agreed to purchase the materials for a fence to surround an area approximately 24 feet by 42 feet.

Kathy is still touched by the donation and caring which was shown.

“Krista sat by me at the same table one day (at a softball game) and said, ‘I think we can get money for a fence if you’ll accept it,’” said Kathy. “She was the instigator of the whole thing. She contacted some other groups to get people to help and made all of the arrangements. It was an answer to a prayer.”

There was a little prep work that had to be done before the site was ready for the fence. First, some trees were cut down to make a larger open space, and Peterson then enlisted Jenkins Tree Service to dig out the stumps. Many people then stepped up to help erect the fence.

Not only were there church members from Westminster, but also people from Jorgia’s traveling softball team and the WGBA (Worthington Girls Basketball Association) team she plays on as well. Sheila Grimmius, Jorgia’s WGBA coach, was thrilled to be a part of the fence team.

“We go to Westminster church,” Grimmius explained. “And Krista asked me, ‘Do you think we can do this?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I think we can.’ Krista contacted Lamperts and they gave us a good deal on the materials.

“The fence was taller than me and I’m 6’3”,” Grimmius added. “It had to be tall so Zion can’t climb over it.”

“We had great people helping,” Peterson shared. “Hans and Mavis Peters were very involved and so were Dan and Darlene Rautenkranz, who provided a meal for everyone working.”

Even the kids got involved both by helping with the fencing when they could and by helping to corral Zion, who enjoyed the whole event immensely.

“The kids took Zion and went on the trampoline,” Grimmius shared. “They enjoyed their time with him, and he enjoyed them. He is so darn cute. He sits at all the basketball games and cheers so hard.”

“Zion brings so much joy to everyone around him,” Peterson concurred. “He just puts a smile on everyone’s face. It was fun to be able to do something for him and to be able to give Dale and Kathy a little peace of mind. We were so glad to be able to help in that way.”

Thankful, and blessed

Peace of mind concerning Zion’s safety is something which Kathy and Dale are very thankful for this Thanksgiving. He wears a Project Lifesaver radio transmitter device on his ankle and loves to test the battery every night before bed. Kathy anticipates that the new play area will be a favorite place for Zion for years to come.

She and Dale worry about getting older and what Zion’s future will hold, but knowing that, for now, he’s safe and happy, is a blessing indeed.

“Zion is such a go-getter,” Kathy said. “He’s an early riser and goes from dawn to dusk. It’s not always easy, but God never gives us more than we can handle. Every time, God is faithful and He helps us to keep going.

“We are so thankful for his providing things that are positive for Zion. God is good, and He has proven that to us over and over.”

Hopelessly devoted to you: Herman & Marian Hinders are still valentines after 70+ years

posted Feb 14, 2017, 7:04 AM by Dan Rautenkranz

In just a few months, Herman and Marian Hinders will celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary. As of today, they have logged 26,325 days as a couple — not counting their courtship.

Their love story began in Hancock County, Iowa, just west of Mason City/Clear Lake. Marian’s family was from Britt, while Herman lived in nearby Woden.

“My brother and I played cards with her folks,” recalled Herman. “In her family, there were 10 girls and one boy, and she’s the last one I met.”

“My folks had moved to Britt, and I was still in school in Garner,” continued Marian, filling in some of the details. “Someone brought me home that night, and here they were playing cards, but I walked right by them and went to bed.”

“I said, ‘Who was that?’” related Herman. “I thought I had met all the daughters.”

On a subsequent Saturday night, their paths crossed again.

“We’d go into town on Saturday nights,” Marian said. “He was there, rollerskating. I didn’t want to skate because I wasn’t that good.”

But evidently Herman cut a fine figure on the roller rink floor, and Marian took a shine to him right away. Before the evening was over, Herman asked to take her home.

“I told her folks, ‘Marian’s not going home with you,” Herman related.

As their courtship progressed, Marian took a drastic measure to ward off the other girls who were vying for Herman’s attention.

“I had lots of competition from the gals at his church,” she said. “So I went to Ben Franklin and got a fake engagement ring and wore it.”

“A 10 cent ring,” inserted Herman with a chuckle. “She didn’t tell me that until later.”

After she graduated from high school, Marian took Normal training and assumed teaching duties at a country school — one that, coincidentally, Herman had earlier attended. Meanwhile, Herman worked on farms and then took a painting job.

“That way I had weekends free,” he noted.

Eventually, Herman presented Marian with a real ring and they were married May 2, 1942, in Clarion, Iowa.

“The summer we got married, we didn’t do much — goofed around, honeymooned all summer,” Herman explained. “I knew I was going to be drafted.”

Herman had earlier tried to enlist in the Armed Services, but didn’t make the cut. But with the World War II raging on two fronts, he knew it was just a matter of time until he was called up.

“I was drafted into the Air Force,” he said. “I was very fortunate. They needed people in the Air Force. They asked, ‘Can you type?’ and I said, ‘Yes.” ‘You’re in.’ So I was a clerk at six different bases.”

“So we did a lot of moving around,” added Marian.

Since Herman was kept stateside, Marian accompanied him to his assignments as much as possible, returning to her family in Britt when necessary. Their favorite locale was Spearfish, S.D., where the Hinders were able to live off base and Herman was treated like an officer even though he never made it past private first class.

“I volunteered” to go overseas, Herman said. “They wouldn’t promote me. So I worked all over the place. Someone would get sick, and they’d jam me in there.”

When the war ended, Herman was transferred one last time to Pennsylvania, where he was discharged in November 1945. He returned home and was employed at the hardware store in Forest City, Iowa.

“I did both sales and service,” Herman said. “After a year and a half, he promoted me to assistant manager. But it was tough making it on $30 a week with a family. We didn’t have a car, so we had to walk everywhere.”

“He’d bring part of the groceries home at noon and the rest at night, because he had to carry them,” remembered Marian.

Herman tried farming, too, but in hindsight is grateful that didn’t work out. Instead, he went into the lightning protection business, selling and installing lightning rods. This enterprise took the Hinders to Fairmont, where they lived for 10 years and their children, Doug and Janet, graduated from high school. Then Herman was hired by the gas company in Windom, where they spent one year before they moved to Worthington in 1962. He was the sales manager at Greeley Gas Co., retiring in 1985.

With their children gone from home, Marian worked for a few years as a sales associate at The Stag in downtown Worthington. She put in 12 years at the Manna Food Pantry until a heart attack forced her to slow down four years ago.

Herman and Marian have both endured some health challenges over the years, although they are grateful the outcomes haven’t been more serious and that they are able to still to live in and maintain their own home. The breast cancer gene runs in Marian’s family, so she had a precautionary double mastectomy in the late 1970s. Herman had a blood clot in his leg and makes a point of walking regularly to prevent a recurrence.

Son Doug and daughter Janet and spouses live in Florida, and Herman and Marian boast proudly of them and their four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. They used to travel to visit their clan, but now stick close to home.

These days, it’s Marian who is the card player, with a long-standing bridge date twice a month.

“Some of us have been playing together for years,” she said. “It’s a good pastime, keeps your mind sharp.

“I don’t think Herman could play bridge. He likes to visit too much, and we don’t visit when we play,” she added, poking a bit of fun at Herman’s penchant for telling stories and jokes.

Marian also likes to work on jigsaw puzzles, and Herman does quite a bit of reading. Together, they are active in their church, Westminster Presbyterian, although not as much as they once were.

“Sundays we go to church, and we do whatever we can do,” said Herman.

“You know, you have to keep active,” Marian chimed in. “Like they say, ‘use it or lose it.’”

If there’s one secret to their enduring marriage, Herman joked that it’s saying “Yes, dear,” but he also makes a point of bestowing a kiss on his bride of 72-plus years whenever he leaves the house.

The Hinders count their blessings every day.

“And do what we have to do each day,” said Marian.

“And sometimes more,” added Herman.

“It just takes us longer to get those things done,” finished Marian.


posted Sep 15, 2016, 8:09 AM by Dan Rautenkranz

Bernice Camery will celebrate her 90th birthday on Thursday September 15th.
An open house, hosted by her family, will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday September 18th in Geneva Hall at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Backpack distribution is Thursday 8-24-16

posted Aug 24, 2016, 5:27 AM by Dan Rautenkranz

Backpack and school supplies for children who live in Nobles County and will attend grades kindergarten through fourth grade will be handed out from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 230 W. Clary St., Worthington.
The program is made possible through donations from individuals and businesses in Nobles County. Monetary donations are still being accepted for the program and may be made to the Manna Food Pantry, earmarked for the backpack program. Checks may be mailed to Manna Food Pantry at 230 W. Clary St., Worthington.

Each child receiving a backpack must register at the door and be accompanied by an adult.

Newly ordained pastor Ojulu hopes to grow multicultural church

posted Jul 12, 2016, 11:44 AM by Dan Rautenkranz

Somehow, it seemed fitting that Owar Ojulu’s ordination was taking place on the same weekend as Worthington’s International Festival. 
Ojulu, who grew up in Ethiopia and has been in the United States for nine years, was ordained Saturday into the Presbyterian Church (USA),
becoming the first Anuak to do so. Ojulu’s hope as a pastor is to work together with Worthington’s various African communities in both worship and mutual respect of cultures and life experience.

“My plan is to have a multicultural congregation,” said Ojulu, who was ordained into Hope Christian Ministry. The ministry currently meets within the homes of its congregants, as well as at Christian Reformed Church in Worthington.

Ojulu’s path from his war-torn African nation to peaceful, diverse Worthington has been lengthy. Growing up in Ethiopia, he said he was fortunate to find Christ at an early age.

“I am the last child in my family, and I came to be in a Christian family through my uncle,” recalled Ojulu, speaking just prior to his ordination ceremony at Worthington’s Westminster Presbyterian Church. “My uncle had went to a town close by us, and then he became a Christian. When I finished elementary school in (my) village, I moved to the town where my uncle was. That’s where I met friends who were Christians, and my uncle talked to me about Jesus.”

Ojulu’s adopted religious faith was dramatically different from the one to which he was initially exposed, he explained.

“I converted from the traditional belief that my fathers had followed. … We were informed that when we die, we would be transformed into a lizard,” he said. ‘When my uncle told me about the resurrection and about Jesus being raised from the dead, that message was great in my heart. Back in the village, we were so scared of the things that would happen. … Life away from the village, and worshiping Jesus, was so peaceful.”

Ojulu eventually began attending school in Ethiopia in order to become a pastor, but didn’t complete the necessary requirements. Instead, he wound up coming to America and attended the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He said he graduated in 2012, and has continued since then to go through the process needed to become the first African to be ordained in the Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys.

In the meantime, Ojulu spent a considerable time in America without his family. He was able to reunite in Worthington with wife and children in 2013, and the couple has three sons and one daughter. Their first American child -- a boy, BodoJwok -- was born in January.

“HIs name means God is victorious, because He has brought us this far,” Ojulu said.

Ojulu now hopes that his journey toward leading a multicultural congregation in Worthington continues. Hope Christian Ministry has already been growing since its formation, he said, and the plan is to continue that growth moving forward.

“Here in Worthington, my goal is to reach out to all Africans here and have a multicultural church where the gospel is contextualized, where they (congregants) worship God in their own language, where their kids can share their cultures and traditions and languages, and where the richness of African culture can be manifested by love,” Ojulu said.

Ojulu added that he came to the Presbyterian Church in the way that many others in Ethiopia did.

“We have a connection with the Presbyterian Church through the missionary Don McClure, who came to Anuak land and our area in late 1930s,” he said. “He named the village he worked in the Village of Life and brought a school, brought medicine and modern farming to my people. In Gambela (Ojulu’s home state in Ethiopia), the name of Don McClure is highly respected because so many people became Christians through him.”

Now, Ojulu is hopeful that many will come to follow Christ through his ministry. Several took part Saturday in his ordination, including: Deb Hess, ruling elder with First Presbyterian Church in Redwood Falls; Rick Carus, teaching elder with Minnesota Valleys Presbytery; Jim Krapf, teaching elder and retired Minnesota Valleys Presbytery pastor; Peter Mann, ruling elder at Crosslake Presbyterian Church; Charles Moore, ruling elder with Westminster Presbyterian Church; Bonnie Sue Roys, teaching elder at First Presbyterian Church in Windom; and Galen Smith, teaching elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Additionally, the Rev. Samuel Atiemo, a Presbyterian minister from the New York City area, attended in what Ojulu explained was a “coach” role.

Ojulu, who is also employed by Nobles County as a community outreach worker, said he looks forward to many years of ministry in Worthington.

“We have made Worthington our home,” he said. “We are at peace, and we don’t have to worry about the war in our area (Ethiopia). I ask the Worthington community to help us grow and to help us integrate.”

Ken and Gloria Jenkins 75th Wedding Anniversary January 31st

posted Jan 25, 2016, 5:47 PM by Dan Rautenkranz   [ updated Jan 25, 2016, 5:51 PM ]

Ken and Gloria Jenkins will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary with an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday in Geneva Hall.
They were married Jan. 31, 1941, in Sibley, Iowa.
Greetings may be sent to them at 1801 College Way, Apt. 238, Worthington 56187.

Smith-Kilker 95th birthday

posted Oct 26, 2015, 12:16 PM by Dan Rautenkranz   [ updated Oct 30, 2015, 7:52 AM ]

Mayme (Ling) Smith- Kilker,
will celebrate her 95th birthday Nov. 4
Greetings may be sent to her at 974 Homewood Ave., Worthington 56187.

August 6th Nelson Family Benefit

posted Jul 20, 2015, 3:22 PM by Dan Rautenkranz

Ken Thompson 95th birthday

posted Jul 16, 2015, 1:37 PM by Dan Rautenkranz

Ken Thompson, Worthington, will celebrate his 95th birthday on Friday.
Birthday greetings may be sent to him at Ecumen Meadows, 1801 Collegeway, Apt. 122, Worthington 56187

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