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Turton: Food, Frogs and Philosophy
Mar 18, 2015
Funny how so many memories of life in a small town revolve around food. That’s the thought that came to me as I thumbed through a little book called “Memories of Turton” that was sent to me awhile back by Kay Britten.
Turton is south of Aberdeen, a town of a few dozen with a magnificent old Catholic church. In June, the feast day of St. John the Baptist is celebrated with real gusto at St. Joe’s. The public school’s mascot was The Frogs, a reference to the French culture of the first settlers. Students now go to Doland and neighboring towns, but good-humored folks still carry on the frog theme.
The school and church are also fondly remembered in the little book, but they take second fiddle to the culinary delights of rural South Dakota.
Jean Barrie Sundvold related that she likes to tell about “when Dad was chopping the heads off the chickens in the backyard, and they would flop all over the yard. We canned them one year and had to take the meat off the drumsticks because they were too big to fit in a quart jar.”
On that same topic, Jeff Barrie reported that there is truth behind the old saying, “Running around with your head cut off."
Myrna Barrie Syverson recalled the little cafe where she gathered with friends after ballgames to enjoy fried egg sandwiches and Cokes with salted peanuts. She also mentioned, “the rabbit hunts on Sundays … making hot chocolate and sandwiches for the hunters.”
Cory Syverson liked burgers and Mello Yello at the Corner Station and catching pike on the bridge over the river. He also recalled big frog hunts — but those didn’t end with a meal. “When we caught them all, we took them all up to the church and let them go!”
Jeff Barrie said one lesson he learned early: “If you’re a vegetarian, pack your own lunch.”
But there were many memories that have more to do with feeding the soul. Alaish Wren said it best when she wrote, “I love the freedom of Turton, and the steadiness of it. I love the forgotten-ness of it. When you come home from Turton you’re never really sure if all of that really happened, or if it even exists or goes on existing while you’re away. Maybe it just appears for you only. What a treasure."