Howdy do, neighbor? How many of you lived in a neighborhood, where everyone knew your name, and who your family was? Well, as you know, I lived on a farm when I was growing up, so I did not have easy access to the charms of living in the city like some of my cousins did. However, our farm was in a nice neighborhood, where you could trust your neighbors, ride the school bus with their children and grandchildren, and ride your bikes all over the place.
My farm was located in what used to be the junction of Highway 115 and County Road 47 near Camp Ripley, a military base. On the county road across from us, was the Charles Rasinsky farm. To the north of us was LeDoux's Store/Country Store. And to the south of us, was the Dan Witt Farm. Since my mother was originally from Minneapolis, you would think that she would be quite flexible with allowing three of my younger brothers and I to ride our bikes all over the place as we grew up. But, since we lived along a very busy main drag at that time, she kept a rather tight leash on at least the four oldest, although she did allow us to walk and climb the military tank on display with our cousins and friends.
While I did not know Charles Rasinsky very well, I did know his wife, Mary, several of her children and in-laws, and her grandchildren as well, because we all rode the school bus together, even though we attended different elementary schools at the time. We were a rowdy bus, but not so rowdy that we would get into trouble for it. (That came when I was in the middle school.) Our bus driver, Paul Lukasavitz, would give us gift certificates for the Dairy Queen at the end of the school year. He was definitely a very kind bus driver.
When Charles Rasinsky passed away, Mary moved back to the farm to live for the remainder of her years. With that, her entire family would come to the farm and spend time there. This was another opportunity for my younger siblings and I to finally have friends to hang out with, especially during the summer. I also found out that my great-great aunt, Antoinette Dugas Bellefuille, had been good friends with Mary when she and Uncle Hector owned my family farm. When Aunt Antoinette came to visit us, I walked her over to see Mary, so that they could visit.
During the summer of 1980, my dad thought that in order for a younger brother and I to earn money, that we would raise chickens, so that they could be butchered in the fall. So, he built a chicken coop for our farm, and used part of Mary's barn as a coop as well. Once the chores were done, I would walk over to the Rasinsky farm, and hang out with the grandchildren as frequently as I could. Two of them were living near an army base in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and were staying at their grandma's for the summer. We definitely had loads of fun! As my younger sisters grew up, they wanted to come along with me, so that they could play with the youngest one. So, that is how we spent our time.
Occasionally, my mother would make loaves of banana bread, and ask me to bring a loaf to share with Mary. So, when I showed up, she was always glad to see me at her door, and offer some cookies and lemonade while we visited with each other. This also occurred when I was an adult as well.
My siblings and I have a nice memory of using the Rasinsky farm as a land mark. When we were traveling, and headed for home, as soon as one of my younger siblings would see the Rasinsky farm, they would say, "Almost home! I see 'Sinsky's house!" (They meant Rasinsky's house, of course.)
Mary passed away in March of 2002. Sadly, after her passing, the MN Department of Transportation bought the Rasinsky farm, and several acres of my parent's family farm, in order to expand the main drag, and change the routing of County Road 47. Unfortunately, this led to the demolition of the Rasinsky Farm, and changed the neighborhood as well. While progress is good, and we needed the progress, neighborhoods change to memories for those that carry on.