The Art of Jean Groberg

"Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can."

 Danny Kaye   

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In the 1980's it was Centennial time for the small town of Claremont, South Dakota. It has a population under 200 people. Folks from the surrounding towns participated to help make this a success.

My brother, Floyd, decided to put together a small float to honor the small Bank of Houghton, which had gone bankrupt in the early 1930's. The old bank building still stands on the Main St. of Houghton. It has passed through several owners over these many years but never saw life again as a bank. It is now used as the Post Office. Floyd loaded a flatbed trailer with a small chicken house from an abandoned farm and pulled it into the yard to have a paint job. The fellows nailed the flat facade to the front of the building to mimic that of the bank building and gave it a coat of paint.

Since I was there visiting at the time, I got to do the fun part. Lettering the front and painting in the appropriate doors so it resembled the old bank, in a very rustic fashion. After all, we were dealing with an old chicken house. One of the windows became the "Drive Up Window" . After my job was finished, the men sawed an eight-foot branch off a nearby cottonwood tree, crammed it into a window on the right side of the building, and hung a sign from it reading "Claremont Branch". These people learned a long time ago how to make their own fun and give others a smile.

The American Legion group led the 100-float parade with a patriotic display of the flag. A High School band blasted a wide path down the street. The local farm implement sales business made sure their finest tractors were pulling a piece of the latest in farm equipment. Local residents and farmers showed their antique cars, fire engines and tractors. Some just showed off their newest tractor. Local 4-H groups gathered aboard decorated flatbed trailers pulled by tractors. There are still horses around and those who had them rode or led them down the street, sometimes in working harness pulling old farm wagons. Local church groups sold food from booths set up along the parade route.

Claremont was given an energy infusion that day and is now twenty years into its second one-hundred years. I admire the ability and resourcefulness of the people in these small communities to cooperate and make their own fun.

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