The deteriorating economic and social climate in the eastern seaboard had Bill and June in a tailspin. Urged on by a business deal with a former acquaintance they decided to look for a better life. The family moves to a tiny town on the high plains in rural South Dakota.
This story is about the family and how they interact with the people. As you read, you see them learn the culture and the climate of their new hometown. The story is a light-hearted tale of culture shock and humor.
The book is intended to get you to smile. It is broken down into easy-reading chapters. Most can stand alone as a short story yet the whole thing strings together into a novel about a family in transition from city to country.
Flyover County has been called, “A nice book about nice people.” It is an escape book. Curl up in your favorite chair and travel with me to a place in Flyover County. Escape with me to Helen, South Dakota and the Weber family. Read along as the hard shell of city living is softened by nice people and honest values.
Targeted Age Group:: Teen to Senior
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My wife and I moved to rural South Dakota in 2004. We found a culture here that has been lost in the large cities of the east and west coasts. The culture is or honest, more genuine and, frankly, much more pleasant.
I fell in love with Rural America and in doing so I fell in love with America again.
I love it here so much I had to write about it. I couldn't write local history, because I hadn't lived her to learn it. I couldn't write a documentary, because I was an outsider.
So I chose to write fiction. I created a small town and now I write about the local characters in that town.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The old saying "A little bit of this and a little bit of that" comes to mind here. My characters are all from my imagination, but many have the characteristics of people I have met. I take a bit from my mental image, add some of the personality and temperament from people around me and Poof! A new person is born in my mind.
None of my characters exactly match anyone I know. Many are a combination of several. As I said, “A little bit of this, and a little bit of that.”
The Post Office Walk
An incident similar to this actually happened to me when I was visiting a friend in rural Iowa back in the eighties. It typifies life in small town America.
To set the stage, Bill Weber is a suburban transplant and new to small town living. Henry is the mayor of Helen, SD (pop 295). Henry owns a small engine repair shop and Bill is a realtor in the county seat.
Henry's home is less than one hundred yards from the post office, yet Henry would drive to get his mail each morning. When Bill challenged Henry about driving such a short distance, Henry replied it took too long to walk.
Bill bet Henry a cup of coffee at the Helen House Cafe they could walk to the post office from Henry's home in under five minutes. Here's what happened.
* * *
Bill walked up to Henry’s door at eight fifteen Friday morning. He didn’t get the chance to knock. Henry greeted him with a coffee in a ‘to go’ cup. “Good morning, Bill.”
“Good morning, Henry.”
“Nice morning for a walk. Didn’t you bring a jacket?”
“I have one in the car. I don’t think I’ll need it just to go a couple hundred feet.”
“Bill, please take my advice, get your jacket.”
Bill laughed, “You’re going to play this to the bitter end. All right, I’ll play along.” Bill went back to the Escalade and got his replica Navy Leather Flying Jacket from the front seat.
“Nice jacket,” Henry said. “Well, ready to walk?”
“Sure thing. Let me start the timer in my phone, just to keep things honest.”
“Go ahead, but you won’t need it.”
As they walked down the driveway, Bill told him the story about the jacket. “I had a neighbor back east who was a Navy Veteran. He used to fly in those big submarine hunter airplanes. He had a jacket like this. When he retired, they let him keep it. I liked the looks of it so I found this replica on line.”
They got to the sidewalk and turned toward the corner. Bill was thinking this was an easy bet in about one minute they would arrive at the Post Office. A pickup truck pulled up and the window came down.
“Good morning Bill, Henry.” Oscar Richlind was sitting in the driver’s seat. “You folks in cahoots trying to figure out how to sell the town this morning?”
“Actually we are working on a bet,” Henry said.
“Bill bet me I could walk to the Post Office in under five minutes.”
“That’s funny Henry. I’d better get going then or I’ll screw up the bet for Bill. I’ll stop by the shop later. I want to talk to you about the zoning change I need.”
“Do that Oscar.”
“How’s that house, Bill?”
“Couldn’t be better.”
“Good. We’ll, see-ya.”
“Have a good day Oscar,” Bill said as the window went up. “One of the best things I ever did was buy his house. June and I really love it.”
“I see you sold Wendell’s place.”
“That was easy. The couple…..”
“Oh, sorry about that.” A man on an antique tractor said as he pulled to a stop. “I just can’t get the backfire out of this thing.”
“Good morning, Terry. You know Bill Weber?”
“You’re that Real Estate man that moved into the parsonage, right?”
“That’s right,” Bill said. “And you are?”
“Terry Falcon, I’m the Parts manager at Helen Case.”
“So, what’s this? You folks are doing ‘take your tractor to work day?’” Henry asked.
“Oh no, we do that in August when things are a bit slower,” Terry replied, not realizing it was a joke. “I can’t get the backfire out of this engine. Every time I pull back the throttle quickly, it backfires. I’m taking it to the shop so Larry can look at it at dinnertime. I saw you walking so I figured I’d ask you about it, too.”
“I know a little about those old magneto ignitions,” Henry said. “If Larry can’t figure it out, bring it by the shop and I’ll give it a look.”
“Sure thing. Well, I’d better get going. Those parts won’t sell themselves.” With that, Terry spooled up the engine rpm again and drove off toward Helen Case IH Implement and Supply.
“That’s a beautiful antique,” Bill said.
“Terry has about six of them. He restores them for a hobby. He says he does it to make money, but he has never sold one after he got it done.”
As they got to the corner another car pulled up. “I thought it was you.”
“Good morning Harvey,” Bill said. “How are you?”
“I’m doing fine. I need to talk to you about Uncle Alan’s house. We moved him to Lazy Acres last month and we want to sell the place. Can you handle it?”
“Sure,” Bill answered. “Let’s find a time when we can get together and walk through it.” Bill reached for his card and handed it to Harvey. “Here, this card has all my numbers on it. Give me a call and we’ll set it up.”
“We’re holding the household and furniture auction in two weeks so the place will be cleaned out. You think I should hold back the appliances?”
“Let’s take a look before the auction. I want to see for myself before I give you any advice.”
“Good enough. Look, I’ve got to go. I’ll call you early next week.”
“I’ll call you if you want,” Bill replied.
“Please do that,” Harvey said with a nod. “We’ll see ya Bill, Henry.”
“So long Harvey,” Henry said.
They got to the corner and crossed the street. A man was walking the other direction and stopped. “Good morning Henry, Bill.”
“Good morning Dan,” Henry said, smiling. “How you feeling?”
“Feeling good now. Doc says I need to walk at least a mile a day to build up my stamina.”
“That’s going to be difficult here in a couple months,” Bill said out loud what he was thinking, “I don’t think I’d want to walk a mile or more on a cold South Dakota winter morning.”
“I got a treadmill at an auction sale the other week. I have it in the basement for when it gets really cold. I don’t think I’ll like it as much. I like to get outside and see things as I walk. Did you see the Lesterton’s are getting a new roof?”
“No,” Henry said. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“They aren’t shingling, they are going with a steel roof.”
“Steel?” Henry said. “That’s kind of spendy, isn’t it?”
“Earnest told me it was about the same, or a bit less.”
“That’s surprising,” Bill said. “I always thought the steel roofs were more money than the standard shingle roof.”
“Me too, until Ernest set me straight.” Dan looked down the road, “Well, I’d better keep moving. I’m not getting my exercise standing here.”
“Have a good day Dan,” Henry said for both of them.
Bill and Henry walked up the sidewalk to the Post Office as they reached the front of the building, a woman walked out. “Henry, I thought you were inside. I saw your Jeep here.”
It was at that point that Bill noticed Henry’s jeep in the parking lot.
“No, I put it there last night. I walked over with Bill this morning.”
The answer satisfied the woman. She didn’t ask for any further explanation. “Are you and Grace coming to the Ladies Auxiliary social this Saturday?”
“Grace mentioned it last week. I sure intend to be there. Is Agnes going to bring her rhubarb pies?” Henry turned to Bill, “Agnes Higgins, that’s Alice’s mother in law, makes the best rhubarb pie in the world. I’m not partial to rhubarb, but I love her pies. They auction them off as part of the fundraiser. The pies will go for over fifty dollars each.”
“They’re that good?”
“They’re that good, plus it's a donation to the Legion Auxiliary,” Henry said.
“Agnes has been baking pies this whole week. She’ll have plenty,” the woman said.
“Then I’m sure we’ll be there,” Henry replied.
“Wonderful, well I’d best get on my way.”
“See you at the social,” Henry said.
They walked into the Post Office and Henry said, “Think you need to check your timer?”
Bill looked at his phone. Nineteen minutes had passed since they left Henry’s driveway. “Nineteen minutes. But you can’t count the last encounter. You would have seen Alicia anyway when you drove over.”
“Not necessarily, I could have been over and back before she got here.”
“How about the time with Harvey? He stopped to talk to me.”
“You know Harvey, he would have stopped even if I had been alone. He would have had a question about the sale, or something else.”
“Point taken. You win. I’ll buy the coffee,” Bill said.
“I’ll drive. I want to get there before dinner.” They both laughed.
“Good morning Beverly,” Henry said.
“That’s a cheery voice, I guess you won the bet.”
“Hands down,” Henry said.
“I learned another lesson in country living this morning,” Bill agreed.
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