For decades I've told people I grew up on a farm. Well, that's not exactly true. Back there in what people who wear a young person's skin would call the 'old days', a farm was generally, oh, at least a quarter section of land.

Some of my friend's dads might have a half-section. And if somebody had a full section, well, they were the biggest farmer in the county! Most farm families would milk maybe 20 cows or so, have about half-a-hundred pigs and some assorted other critters running around the yard or penned up.

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That was, essentially, a farm back there, back then.

On the other hand, we lived on eighty acres, rented from a man in Worthington. Dad milked cows for a while, seems like maybe 8 or 9. We had 15, maybe 20 pigs or assorted sizes. There were chickens, a horse for a while, a goat or two.

The buildings? A house, grainary, hog house, barn, chicken coop, garage. Were they old, even back then? Yes. Were they ramshackle? OK, I kind of like that word, so sure. Run down? Whoa hoss, let's not get nasty! This was, after all, home.

Just a mile south of a place called Leota. Leota, Minnesota. If you picture the state of Minnesota on a map and can locate the city of Duluth? Well, if you go kitty-corner, we are just about as far away from Duluth as you can get and still be in this Land of 10,000 Lakes.

In effect, those of us in and around Leota were 'pert-near Iowa and 'pert-near South Dakota. Nestled comfortably in the southwest corner of the Gopher state, we were smack dab in the middle of the corn and beans, and deep into the heart of the finest, friendliest people, you'll ever meet.

From where I grew up, just a half-mile down the gravel road that way was Howard and Lorraine. A half-mile down the gravel road the other way was Dewey and Doris. Those gravel roads were dotted with names like that, Nelson and Grace, Morris and Dorothy, John and Esther, Dewey and Cornelia. You know those people if you grew up in or near a small town, yes you do. Oh, they may have different names but these were the folks you lived with, worked with, laughed and cried with, worshiped with.

That is, truth be known, what a small community is.

Many of those people are gone now, including two named Marvin and Henrietta. Those two lived on that little farm (uh, I mean farmstead), that rented 80 acres. My brother and I called them Dad and Mom.

Those were golden days, those days of 'Growing Up Leota'. And I hope your days of growing up...well, wherever you grew up...we're just as warm and golden.

Randy's Minnesota Memories

Randy McDaniel grew up on a small farm near Leota, Minnesota during the classic baby-boomer years of the 1960s and 1970s. These are his stories of growing up in the idyllic world of southwest Minnesota.

Here Are The 7 Remaining Drive-In Theaters In South Dakota

If you were born last know, in the nineteen hundreds (ugh) may have spent a summer evening in the car watching movies. I don't mean on your phone, I mean at the drive-in movie theater!

If you were in Sioux Falls in the 1970s and '80's you may remember seeing Jaws and Indiana Jones at The East Park or the Starlite Drive-In. Both drive-ins opened just after World War 2. The East Park didn't make it out of the '70s, closing in 1978. The Starlite survived long enough to see the birth of home video, closing in 1985.

Drive-in movies had a bit of a resurgence during the pandemic. They were a way to go out and do something social without getting out of your car.

If you tried one during that time, or you remember the fun of a warm summer evening watching movies on that giant screen there are still places in South Dakota and around Sioux Falls you can do it.


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