The Good People of Chokio


chokio equity exchange.jpg

I spent 2 hours on main street Chokio (pronounced Cho-ky'-yo) yesterday. I enjoyed a couple diet cokes at John's cafe while Alma had her swimming lessons. Brilliant that they have 2 hour swim lessons for those of us who live remotely. The CHOKIO EQUITY EXCHANGE towers over the town of 400 people. There's something inspiring about sitting under the 20 foot high word "EQUITY." And don't be so sure that when it was painted that they just meant common corporate ownership-- there was probably an undercurrent of equity meaning:

"the concept or idea of fairness or justice in economics, particularly in terms of taxation and welfare economics"

When I rode in the ambulance from the farm to Ortonville last month I was with the county's emergency plan coordinator. Of course we talked about disaster preparedness. He told me that the city of Wilmar is planning that within 72 hours of a disaster their population will swell 2-3 times. That means in case of a pandemic or other scary unpredictable event that many cousins, great neices, college buddies, etc... will flee the Twin Cities to head to safer ground in Wilmar.

What does this have to do with Chokio?

Well- Chokio's population is swelling 2 to 3 time this weekend. Last night was the Federated Telephone Cooperative Annual meeting. I'm lucky and thankful to be a Federated Coop member. John, owner of the Chokio Cafe, was planning on feeding 750 people for that meeting! It doesn't stop there. Tonight is the 1947-1948 class reunion. Tomorrow, Saturday, is the town celebration and they are expecting 1,000 people to attend. They are serving FREE MEAT-- just bring your own salad for the noon meal, following the parade. On Sunday there's a fund raiser omelet breakfast at the Catholic Church to help pay for a new "Welcome to Chokio" sign.

On Saturday night Todd Sandberg, the Rock 'N Roll Farmer, will DJ the Chokio street dance from 9pm to 1 am.

The crops are under water-- we may as well dance the night away.


The comments and lines generated from small town America!-- when I was in the service one of the fun things to do (over a brewski) was to read the local news from the "Hayfield Herald". Would the name Hayfield bring on any pre determined judgment about the place? Yayoubetcha. But we all know the real value in life is out here on the prairies where all things originate. Still enjoying your thoughts and comments. Would think that when you live between the great divide of two great rivers that one would not have to worry about flooding! May tell us a little about how far we've slipped back!


I'm enjoying YOUR comments and lines! Isn't it crazy that at the very very top of both the Minnesota River and the Red River at the continental divide we have a flash flood on our farm. And if you ask Mom she'll tell you this place is flat as a pancake. Live here a while and you start to see a little relief in the landscape. Yes-- the wonders of drainage... Wonderful unless you're the one downstream. I feel for the folks in Iowa.
Thank you Evan!!

Thanks, Kathryn, for this thoughtful note about 'my home town'. I can't count how many loads of grain I've hauled into that elevator pictured at the top of your piece.

As I draw a breath of air, I can smell the chaff, hear the grain slide down the inclined trailer bed and out the endgate. I can hear the rumble of the 'elevator' in the background as the high speed chain buckets carry the grain from the pit to the bin assigned to or that.

And I can recall the relief at having gotten another load of to market at harvest time, when yet another load awaited me at the combine. The would be hauled either in the I-H 2-ton truck, or by tractor pulling tandem trailers. Making good time from the field to the elevator was important, but more important was the safety of this precious cargo, each of which represented the gross profit from the annual family income. I also recall the joy of returning to the field with the empty trailers in tandem. 'Road gear' was perhaps 18 mph, but at a certain speed close to that harmonics would buld up quickly and the empty trailers, in tandem, could dance dangerously on the road.

It is a dangerous occupation, farming.

BTW, most pronounced it Sho-KAI-oh. At least when I was younger. There were a few hardened souls, though, who insisted that the initial consonantal cluster was the same as in the French 'TCH'. Either way works, so long as it wasn't pronounced as CHOKE-e-oh. That is a mark of the foreigner, much like one can readily distinguish the native from the pretender by his usage of the shortened form of the name of the county seat of neighboring Douglas county.

Doug Meyer-- I hope you check back here. Thank you for your recollections about farming in Chokio (and yes! the emphasis is on the middle syllable!). It is a dangerous occupation - farming. We lost a neighbor and friend over the weekend to a tractor accident.

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This page contains a single entry by Kathryn Draeger published on June 13, 2008 9:07 AM.

Flash flood in Big Stone County was the previous entry in this blog.

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