May 5, 2019

Because of the extreme weather conditions up north, we rerouted our travels west which led us to Revillo, South Dakota, grand population of 107. Why would we travel to this small, small town, you say? Well, Revillo is where Joe grew up and then moved from to Little Rock, Arkansas when he was 12. When he was a kid, he thought Revillo was this huge city…..a gigantic playground of fields, bridges, creeks, trees, dirt roads, bicycling, horseback riding and tons of friends. But as we grow older, we all realize that our childhood perspectives are out of whack. This town that was bustling with activity 50 years ago is now a desolate memory of days gone by. There are only a few business left in town: farmers grain elevator, Watering Can Cafe, Charlie’s Bar, Schmieding’s Garage, US Post Office, beauty shop, health center, volunteer fire department, community center, K-12 school that closed in 2017, Lutheran church, Catholic church and Trinity Lutheran church. The only paved road is the main drag, with all others still gravel. The perfect place to raise a family if you didn’t have to work, as there were very limited opportunities.

On our way to Revillo, Joe called the postmaster, an old grade school friend, Yvette Johnson, to find out if there was a place to park our camper for a few nights. She suggested we park behind the old school.

As soon as we arrived in town, we went by Schmieding’s Garage to ask about camping at the school and he agreed that the school would be a good place to camp. While there, we ran into a guy that Joe new from school that was on his way out and he knew who we were immediately. Apparently the Postmaster told everyone in town that we were arriving. LOL! The garage also has a small bar and we visited with the owner and the only patron and caught up on stuff that has happened in the past 50 years.

While we were exploring the town, Joe showed me the location of his first home that used to be the school built in 1901. After years of neglect, the building was torn down. Here is what it looked like:

After his mom and dad divorced, mom and the kids moved in the house across the street. It is now tired and run-down and desperately in need of a major renovation or maybe just a bulldozer. Time has not been kind to this home. Check out the photos below.

We wandered over to the Watering Can Cafe to get some lunch and was greeted warmly by the owner, cook, server and dishwasher, Shelly Ruth Schafer. She runs a really nice place. The lunch special was chicken Alfredo that day and boy was it yummy! It was so good that we returned the next day for tater tot casserole! MMMM!

When we stopped in at Schmieding’s Garage again, the owner mentioned that it was Tuesday Pie Day at the community center. You don’t need to tell me twice! We headed straight to the community center for pie. When we arrived, there were several older women in the kitchen with lots of leftover pie. They had already began to shut down, but were very happy to accommodate us. Joe asked who’s pie was the best and one lady said “they are all good.” HA! What a diplomat! There was no rhubarb left, so we chose a blueberry and a cherry pie and were given a hot mug of coffee to wash them down. Apparently you have to be first in line to get rhubarb. We visited with the ladies for a while and some knew Joe’s family. Small world. Great pie and great company.

One thing we wanted to do while we were in Revillo was find the grave of Joe’s dad, George Arthur Moen. I found the details below online. We visited all the surrounding cemeteries and found no headstone or marker for him. On the suggestion of another old school friend, we went to the funeral home in Milbank for assistance, as they would have done the services for the Revillo area. They kindly obliged and searched their records to no avail. So, that was a bummer. We did find several other family members of Joe’s dad that were buried there, the Buntings, Schultz’, Mogard’s and another Moen.

Before heading out to South Dakota, we contacted an old grade-school sweetheart of Joe’s, Darcy Dahlgren. She gave us the low-down on some other old friends and changes in town since Joe left. She also sent some yearbook pictures of their 5th grade class and a random one of Joe. Darcy is now the manager of the Grainery Cafe in Watertown, so we visited her there for breakfast one morning. It was so nice to meet her and talk more about the “good ole days.” Joe describes her as ageless. And she is very kind, considerate and welcoming. Darcy has raised 3 sons and has worked at the Grainery Cafe for 32 years!! Kudos to her dedication! Hopefully we’ll meet up with her one day soon.

After breakfast at the Grainery Cafe, we went down the street to WW Tire Service Inc to get new tires for the Sedona. They had what we needed in stock and immediately took our car in the bay. They were quick too. We were out of there in under an hour. Great service!

After lunch at the Watering Can Cafe, we walked across the street to the Grant-Deuel Wildcats Museum, a small building housing all the memorabilia of the now-closed school. We found all the yearbooks and class photos from when Joe and his siblings attended. Some of the photos we found are below.

The second night we were in town, we stopped by Charlie’s Bar and Joe introduced me to a South Dakota beer, Grain Belt. Not bad stuff, so I had another. While we were there, we ran into another old friend of Joe’s, Stan. Stan bought me another beer, which is one beer over my limit. We visited with him and Charlie for quite a while and got caught up on other Revillo news and days gone by. Very nice evening.

It rained the entire time we were in Revillo. Dark, dismal and wet. We headed for Mitchell, South Dakota Wednesday afternoon and are now in the KOA just east of the city.

While in Mitchell, we checked out the Corn Palace. We have seen it before the outside is redesigned every year, so we wanted to see the latest mural. According to their website: “During the summer months the Corn Palace offers free guided tours led by friendly guides full of “a-maize-ing” facts, like how many nails and staples are used in the decoration process. The tour also features an outstanding video explaining the Corn Palace Story. After the tour you can view displays about the Corn Palace, how the murals are created, souvenirs and entertainment from the past, and how the corn is grown.” Very interesting place. Your whole family would enjoy this place.

Another place we visited was the Mitchel Prehistoric Indian Village. It is “A national historic landmark and the only archaeological site that is open to the public in South Dakota.” Pretty interesting place.

We have two campers parked next to us: Laurriee and Jimmy, and her mom and dad Sherry and Bill in the camper next to them. Laurriee and Jimmy are in a 70s, 80s and 90s rock band called Jade Monkey. Pretty good music! You can check them out here. Yesterday, while we were out walking the dogs, Joe asked Sherry why such a young woman was using a walker. Sherry said that she was just diagnosed with stage 4 bone cancer in her hip. She broke down and Joe shared his cancer story with her. We can all agree that cancer sucks, but by the grace of God, Joe is 11 years cancer free this month! WHOOHOO!

Some observations:

  • There are REAL deer here and not those Great Dane-sized ones that roam around Arkansas. These are REAL dear!
  • Ring-necked pheasants and turkey are everywhere from Wisconsin west to South Dakota and they are not afraid of anything…..not even a car. They will saunter across the road like they owned it and take their sweet time doing it. I have never seen more in my life!
  • Prairie dogs are everywhere also. Abigail and Agnes would have a blast digging them out. Just saying.
  • Have you noticed the pepper flakes that restaurants put in their shakers? They put coarse-ground pepper in a shaker with tiny holes. Why? Why can’t they just use fine-ground pepper in their shakers or use shakers with larger holes. Just, why?

The whole time I have been writing this morning, Joe has washed 2 loads of clothes, hung them up on the clothes line and then scrubbed down the outside of the camper. He has been a a pretty busy boy this morning. What a wonderful husband. 🙂

Some random photos: