LA VALLEUR COMMUNICATES: Musings by Barbara La Valleur — The End Of An Era

It’s the end of an era for sure: The last calendar from First State Bank in Ashby, Minn., hangs in our kitchen at La Farm as one has every year for probably over 70 years.

I don’t know when the bank started printing the simple, austere calendar in red, white and blue with the black and white photo of the bank on the top. A new photo appeared a few years ago when the bank built an addition with a drive-in window.

My late grandparents, John and Mabel La Valleur, had one hanging in the kitchen when they lived here from 1920 until they sold the farm decades later to the late Verle and Rose Martin. I’m pretty sure Verle and Rose had the Ashby Bank calendar hanging in the kitchen, too.

Then my sisters and I bought 32 acres of what was left of the original farm Oct. 27, 1996. One of the first things we did was hang the Ashby Bank calendar in the kitchen.

When one sister “wanted out,” we bought her out. Then another sister died suddenly in 2017. That was when my daughter, Claire Shaw, and I bought it. I joked to a gathering of friends Friday that I’ve paid for La Farm four times over the years!

So many of the things in this special old place haven’t changed much. Sure, we improved things over the years: air conditioning, a new bathroom, furnace, knocked out a bedroom wall to make an enlarged living room, installed all new windows, put on a new roof a few years ago. Last year, we took the plunge for new siding. A new water heater was needed in November.

La Farm is a peaceful place and we come to as often as we can.

Throughout all those changes, though, we could always look up from the red kitchen table, whether eating a meal or playing hundreds of games of Hand and Foot to glance at the calendar.

We would check for special national holidays, handwritten birthdays, anniversaries, even fun facts like when the Full Moon or New Moon appeared or like today’s First Day of Winter.

Then a few months ago, the bank was sold. It’s now called Viking Bank. That’s a fine name, and I’m sure it will keep on doing business as usual. But when I stopped in this past week, I wasn’t surprised to hear there wouldn’t be a calendar in 2020, though I was pleased to see three of my black-and-white photos of the community hanging behind the counter.

So we’ve reached another End of an Era. Part of me is sad, yet what is important is that our small towns continue to thrive.

I’m grateful that Viking Bank bought the bank. I’m proud to say that both my hometowns of Ashby and Battle Lake, Minn., are both thriving.

All is calm, all is bright.

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