Saturday, March 29, 2008

St. Peter, 10 Years Later

I spent a nice chunk of my youth in St. Peter. Weekend visits to both my grandparents' houses, one living on the South end on Jackson Street, the other in a farmhouse on the North end of town. I mentioned my Southern Minnesota connection in my St. Patrick's day post the other day.

On March 17, 1998 the lovely Mrs. Flash and I traveled to St. Peter, MN for the St. Patrick's Day festivities at, where-else, Patrick's on Third. That would be the last time I saw St. Peter whole. Less than two weeks later, the terrain would be changed forever.

The town has recovered amazingly well over the last 10 years, but when I read 'the scares are gone', that is simply not the case. Buildings are gone forever, and rebuilt in different locations, specifically, the Catholic church. I was baptized in this church, along with my sister. My parents were married there almost 50 years ago as was my Grandmother's funeral, less than 4 years earlier.

The German Lutheran Church, where the Schiebel side of the family worshiped, met a similar fate. Roof torn apart beyond repair. The church was completely rebuilt on the same location, while sharing worship times with the neighboring Trinity Lutheran. Minnesota Square Park is still without all the luxurious old growth trees, and the Catholic Cemetery, with only one tree remaining, hovering over the resting place of Patrick and Margaret Mayer, the very Patrick who is the namesake of the aforementioned bar. My Grandparents are also in that cemetery, as is Dustin.

Dustin Schneider was the lone fatality in the St. Peter storm. He was sucked out of the families van as it searched for cover. I visit Dustin every time I am 'up on the hill' paying my respects to Grandma and Grandpa. My boys are about his age, with Nick turning 16 on Monday. Dustin's headstone is adorned with a small color picture of this bright young boy. Matchbox cars and other youthful trinkets scattered about. My boys, years ago, left some things for Justin. I will visit again when I make my annual Memorial Day trip.

Life is fragile, and the Comfrey/St. Peter tornadoes of 10 years ago are a testament to that. It is also a testament to the determination and vitality of community. I miss the old buildings, the trees, and the loved ones lost, but an enhanced respect for my old home town shines through. They made it through the tumult just fine and I look forward to my next visit.

Below are more picture links and I will be cobbling together other media acknowledgments of the anniversary.

Have a great weekend . . . and hug your kids!


Pictures above, are used with permission of Eric Foss, former St. Peter Herald photographer and proprietor of Wedding Maps. More pictures here, many are before and five years after.


Other pics including this one of the Catholic Church from a different angle
Day after/cleanup pics

Other 10 years later links:

Post Bulletin
Mankato Free Press-Paid Sub required
Gustavus Adolphus College

I'll add more as I find them, if you know of others, comment section is below!
STRIB Nick Coleman

No comments: