Photos taken in 1977: 1)  So. Broadway, from left: Duffy's Tavern, Harold Westphal's Barber Shop, Reed's Tamarack Diner, Ray's Barber Shop, Kvale's Real Estate;  2) from right: Spring Valley Mutual Insurance - Loren Graskamp, V-Store -Joyce Buss, Bob Blahnik - attorney, VFW;  3) Bob Jones' Coast to Coast, Anthony's- Larry Hempler;  4) Methodist Church Museum;  5) from left: Rongar's Carpet, Dean Johnson's Spring Valley Drug, Jornels - Thor Jorgenson & Roy Nelson, Rongars - Ron Smith & Gary Ruesink.  6) from left: Sears catalog store- Dave Chvatal,  Minnesota Loan & Thrift, Hansen's Montgomery Ward catalog store, Bruce Hartert's Ben Franklin store.
Photos taken in 1977: 1) So. Broadway, from left: Duffy's Tavern, Harold Westphal's Barber Shop, Reed's Tamarack Diner, Ray's Barber Shop, Kvale's Real Estate; 2) from right: Spring Valley Mutual Insurance - Loren Graskamp, V-Store -Joyce Buss, Bob Blahnik - attorney, VFW; 3) Bob Jones' Coast to Coast, Anthony's- Larry Hempler; 4) Methodist Church Museum; 5) from left: Rongar's Carpet, Dean Johnson's Spring Valley Drug, Jornels - Thor Jorgenson & Roy Nelson, Rongars - Ron Smith & Gary Ruesink. 6) from left: Sears catalog store- Dave Chvatal, Minnesota Loan & Thrift, Hansen's Montgomery Ward catalog store, Bruce Hartert's Ben Franklin store.
What fun I have had reading a section from the May 1980 issue of the Minneapolis Tribune entitled "Neighbors." Spring Valley, by local assent, was considered a bedroom community since many people drove to Rochester to work at IBM, Telex Communications or Mayo-affiliated facilities.

Most other needs could be met here - good shopping, golf course, eight churches, three doctors, three dentists, and two vets. The only complaint - not enough entertainment. There was a bowling alley, outdoor theater, a well-considered supper club, the Lobster House, and the nearby old trout farm and Masonic Park for picnics. Downtown, the upper facades dating back to 1870s resembled castles with their turrets.

At street level, however, the buildings looked like any other small town with clothing, craft, jewelry, drug, grocery and hardware stores. Cars angle-parked along Broadway, bearing bumper stickers like "We believe in marriage" - "Sows aren't fined for littering" - "Fly the Flag!"

Done by three staff writers, Larry Batson, Ruth Hammond, and Tom Swenson, plus photographer Dan Seifort, they profiled 14 Spring Valley folks, all ages and walks of life. Here are some of the profiles, in brief.

Batson interviewed and freely quoted Mayor Harold Smith. A former beekeeper, Smith had just reduced the salaries of the mayor and council by 40 percent; he donated half his salary to the community center, where he was volunteering his carpenter talents for its rejuvenation; under his watch eight miles of dirt streets had been paved; he had abolished the police department to turn law enforcement over to the Fillmore County Sheriff's Department; and by threats had gotten about 250 dogs licensed. He was described as strong-minded and persevering.

At Harold's Barber Shop, 2-year old Chad Minnich was sitting in the booster seat getting his golden locks trimmed for summer. Bradley Tune, in partnership with his mother Donna Musel, proudly held up the fishing worms he had for sale. He had earned $38 in six weeks selling worms to anglers for 50 cents a dozen.

Al Miller, known about town for his ability to talk your arm off, was in his machine shop where he and his brother, Geoff, could fashion any machine part you needed. He proudly gave the reporter a guided tour of the historical society museums - the Methodist Church Museum being on the National Register. They saw the 1874 hook and ladder fire wagon, items from the Molstad and Halbkat general stores, a child-sized coffin, Conley cameras manufactured here, inventions of Charlie Henderson, and much more - all displayed in cabinets made from old storm windows. "Aren't these pretty slick?" "Did you know Richard Sears grew up here?" "You need to meet 'Mrs. Museum,' Mrs. John Halbkat." There were more incredible exhibits at the Pioneer Home Museum half a block away, and both museums were open on summer weekends. Indeed, Mrs. Halbkat, age 90, met them on her porch, looking very frail. She came in 1915 to teach school and married John Halbkat, whose family ran a general store for three generations, 1859 to 1959. The Halbkats were among the founders of the historical society following the 1955 centennial celebration.

One writer met with Harry Solt, retired salesman, the seasonal Santa Claus. He and friends Art Larson and Paul Clark spent untold hours in the basement of the community center, repairing used and broken toys for the Kiwanis Club toy giveaway to needy families at Christmas time, a blessing that brought them deep satisfaction. His wife Evelyn made clothes for all the refurbished dolls.

Up the street, the writer stopped at the Pandora Shoppe, a red brick barn-like garage where Rachel Bly helped discards find new owners. "I sell all kinds of stuff - the good, bad and ugly." The barn had been built by her grandfather, Frank Clouse, as a place for Odd Fellows and Rebekah (lodges) assemblies. Rachel was on the school board and Superintendent Dornack happened to stop by with a "van full of stuff for you." Her husband Gordon had just gotten a job in Minot, N.D., and Pat Myhre would succeed her in business.

Over on Pleasant Avenue was a Mennonite church that seated 100, but had only 20 members. Pastor Simon Schlabach, formerly Amish, declared theirs was a liberal group known as Old Mennonite that wore more colorful clothing, drove cars and owned televisions. His wife Arlene worked at the Super Valu. The group believed in creation, not evolution, and he had sent a letter to the school protesting their teaching sex education to junior high students. However, he would "let it go at that, as it is more my nature to be low-key."

Since Loren Smith was not fond of his father's beekeeping business, he had looked around for something else to do. Tinkering with old autos since he was 14, his hobby spread by word of mouth and soon he had nine employees at Valley Restoration, working on at least 40 cars. Classics, if you will, and worth tons of money, since owners usually bought them for investments. Loren often worked a whole year on a car before it met his criteria.

Down at the Tamarack Diner, Roger Reed leaned on the counter, updating his bingo losses. The "Bingo Quartette" included waitress Geneva Nolta, her husband Butch, and waitress Violet Olson, who played bingo anywhere and wherever - St. Ignatius Catholic Church twice a month, and two nights a week in the winter they drove to the Cities to play. Geneva said, "No matter how much you win at Bingo, you can't get ahead! You never win at gambling." So why play? Not much to do in Spring Valley. The Reeds had been in the restaurant business for over 25 years - Fern, then her son Roger and wife Sharon and his sister Marge Minnich worked there. Roger was counting on his picture being in the paper, and it was.

Other writers highlighted the town and several more locals. Next week, we'll hear about Clarence Norby, wood carver, Joe Pettey, who discovered Mystery Cave, Bernard Pietenpol, Cherry Grove flyer, and more. Stay tuned.