Gnomes Ruby and Dennis lived in a dugout under a large oak tree near Gnometown. Nearby was a ravine where Gnometown folk dumped their disposables and unwanted items. Dennis loved to rummage around there as he cleared the land to make a large garden and often found old and historic items. One day he brought home an old waffle iron used on a wood stove that was heart-shaped, probably an old wedding gift. Ruby loved it and proclaimed enthusiastically, “It’s old, it’s precious, it must be saved!” So, Dennis went to the barn and made a wooden box, painted “SAVE” on it and lovingly placed the old, precious antique in the bottom.
While rummaging through an old trunk one day, Ruby found six old yellowed letters which were written by her soldier grandfather to his girl back home while he was off fighting in WW1. “Oh, Dennis, look…they’re old, they’re precious, they must be saved.” Dennis brought them to the barn, wrapped them in cloth and carefully put them in a box marked “SAVE”.
While Dennis was cleaning out in the field one day, out of the dirt came a large metal piece. As he dug further, he uncovered an old horse drawn plow, which wasn’t needed anymore in Gnometown. He thought to himself, “It’s old, it’s precious, it must be saved.” He took it down to the river, washed the dirt off, brought it to the barn and placed it carefully next to the box marked “SAVE”. Soon the barn was bulging full of old and precious items that needed to be saved.
Then one day, Dennis learned that Gnometown was going to tear down the old bank. He was discussing that with his friends and pressed, “No, that building has history. It’s old, it’s precious. It needs to be saved!”
“Too much money,” they scoffed. “Too far gone!” said the town folk.
Dennis walked home with a heavy heart, feeling bad about the bank building. When he told Ruby about it, she instantly agreed. “It’s old, it’s precious, and it must be saved! Why don’t we do it? You have carpentry skills, and we’ll get others to help with the project.” And so it was, he purchased the old bank, fixed the roof, fixed the walls and windows, and it was beautiful again.
One day Gnomes Rudy and Charlie approached Dennis and asked him if the bank building could be used for a Gnometown museum. Gnometown needed a place for the folk to show their old and precious items that they no longer needed.
“Grand idea!”, exclaimed Dennis, “I have saved a lot of old and precious things in our barn, I can put them in the new museum for all to see.
So all the folk of Gnometown were happy. They began to look for things that were old, things that were precious, and things that needed to be saved. Happy to have a place to put them for everyone in Gnometown to enjoy.
Gnome Charlie loved playing Berryball, the game Coach Ruzich invented. But Charlie took it to a new level, creating plays and strategies in the game, to make it more interesting and competitive. He and his friends became a team, in work and play. When he became an adult gnome he coached the young gnomes and developed competitions with the other towns.
Spring brought a rainy season this year and the rivers were very high. A large group of gnomes living on the island in the river were stranded and in danger, and the water was rising. The water was very swift because the snow was melting, filling up the many creeks which flowed into the river. It was a dangerous situation, these gnomes had to be evacuated from their homes soon.
A quick meeting was called by Gnome Daws at the mound just to the north of the big oak tree down by the river.
“We’ve got to help them, NOW,” said gnome Al. “What can we do? They can’t just get in their walnut shells and float over, the river will sweep them away. We need help.”
“My boy, Charlie, has a bunch of friends he plays berryball with, they are many and they are strong because they work on the land. They are farmers,” said Gnome Rudy. “I’ll see if they can come.”
Charlie and his farmer friends came right away because they cared deeply about the gnometown community. They quickly surveyed the situation, developed a strategy, collected the things they needed and went right to work. The gnomes on the other side were frightened but trusted the caring gnomes who were trying to save them and followed their instructions to a tee. The farmer gnomes tied a strong cord to a rock and threw it across the river to the stranded gnomes. They caught it, got into their walnut shells, hung on tight and were pulled quickly to the other side to safety. The farmer gnomes had been playing berryball and were accurate shooters. In no time at all, they were rescued and safe on the shore and taken care of by the gnometown rescuers.
“Good job!” said Gnome Daws. “You are quite a team. If there is anything we can do for you, let me know.”
“Well,” Gnome Charlie replied, “the youth in our community need more things to do and we have invented a game. We certainly could use a space to set it up. We are using last year’s big crop of cucumbers, you can only eat so many gherkins. We cut them in slices, dried them and they glide like a hawk when thrown. We thought we could set it up like a golf game.”
“Good idea!” said Gov Ted. “I’ve got some land down by the river, it floods some years, but it will be perfect for that. It’s yours!”
“Thank you for what you did,” added gnome Areta to Charlie and his friends. “You saved a lot of lives today because you care. Now, I know this is silly, but I wish you could think of some way to use up some of the tons of pickles we put up last year. We’ll never be able to eat them all.”
“Areta,” answered Charlie, looking at his farmer friends with a wink, “I think we can help with that problem, too. I have an idea of how we can use them. Come on boys, we’ve got projects to work on.”
There were lots of long beards in Gnometown. Young Virgil had gone to school to be a barber and set up a shop down by the river, complete with a red, white and blue barber pole. He grew up poor but had learned to work hard, save for what you want, take care of the things you own and be happy for what you have. Every day he would get up early, milk the cow, pick eggs, feed the animals, and help in the garden before he set off for work. One morning, while cleaning up after his last customer, he muttered, “I am so tired. If only I had enough money to retire I could volunteer to help Gnometown folks with their chores, run errands, or just visit the lonely.
At that moment, Gov Ted walked in. He needed a haircut and beard trim. He had overheard Virg’s lament and when he left, he thanked him and gave him a bag of gold coins. There were enough coins for Virg to retire. He quickly found the CLOSED sign, put it in the window, and started for home. About halfway home he noticed an old woman, struggling to pick vegetables in her very weedy garden. It was a very hot day, but Virg walked quickly by, pretending not to notice her. He walked a ways and looked back. He turned around, set down his bag of coins and started helping the old woman. A robber who noticed Virg set down the bag of coins, grabbed it and ran off. Saddened, he turned right around and went back to the shop and put the OPEN sign in the window.
Later, Gov Ted happened to walk by and was surprised to see Virg back in the shop. Virg looked so very sad as he spilled his tale of woe to Gov Ted. Gov felt such compassion for his hard luck, that he reached in his pocket and pulled out a diamond and gave it to Virg. Although he had never seen a diamond before, he knew its value. He thanked Gov Ted and put the CLOSED sign in the window and started for home.
On his way home, he noticed the old woman had fallen in the garden and spilled all her vegetables on the ground. He looked away thinking he had to get home and hide the gem. His wife wasn’t there when he got home, so he put the diamond in the pot over the fire and laid town to dream about what he would do with his new wealth. In the meantime, his wife came home, grabbed the pot over the fire and went to the river to get water for supper. She dipped the pot in the stream and the diamond fell out. Not knowing about the diamond, she filled her pot with water and headed back home.
Virg woke from his nap just as his wife was coming in the door with the pot of water. As she put the pot on the fire he ran over to check for his diamond, only to see that the gem was gone. So back he went to the shop, put the OPEN sign in the window and waited for the next customer. Gov Ted was out for his usual walk and noticed the OPEN sign in the window. “I thought you wanted to retire?” the Gov said. Virg told him what happened. Once again, he had pity on him and reached into his pocket and took out one coin, probably only enough for a tin of coffee. Virg thanked him, looked at the clock and noticed it was time to go home, so he put the CLOSED sign in the window and started for home.
Just as he started on his way, he saw Gnome Elder netting a walleye from the river. It was such a nice walleye, Virg offered the coin to Elder in return for the fish. He put the fish in his lunch pail with a bit of water. The large fish was flopping around in that small pail so much that it coughed up the diamond. “There it is!” There it is!” Virg yelled loudly. The robber was hiding in the bushes and thought he had been caught and would be arrested. He scrambled out of the bushes, pushed the bag of coins at Virg and ran off.
Stunned, he dumped the fish back in the river and hurried towards home. On his way, he noticed the old lady on the ground in her garden, slowly picking up her spilled vegetables. This time, he was so grateful he had recovered his treasure, he stopped to help the old woman pick up her vegetables and gave her some of his gold coins. The next day, he went back to his barber ship and put a NEW sign in the window.
FOR SALE – Now Virg could retire all due to his good fortune. He vowed he would volunteer to help any Gnometown folks who were lonely or needed help; and he DID!
But after a few weeks, Virg had too much time on his hands. There must be something else he could do, he thought. At the local coffee shop, he heard the Gnometown Bank needed someone to to help the Gnometown area with their insurance needs. Virg thought; “I think I can do that.” So for the next 20 years, he served Gnometown area with their insurance needs. With his hair graying and running out of pencils and erasers, he turned in his broken down typewriter to the Gnometown banker. He was happy to get back to the things important to him. In cold weather, he could haul meals to the shut-ins and elderly. In nice weather, he could water their flowers; in the fall, he could give away his delicious apple; and when time and weather allowed, he could spend time with his friends, Gnome Phil and Gnome Del. They could sit at the rivers edge, rod in hand; just watching their bobbers go up and down in the water. They had lots of stories to tell about the early days in Gnometown.
Dr. Ralph Gerbig
Gnometown was growing. The word was spreading all over the area that this community was the best place to live, and work and play. Many of the gnomes worked on farms, planting, cultivating and harvesting corn and soy beans. Some worked with the animals, feeding, cleaning and keeping them healthy. There were many gnomes who found jobs squeezing the oil out of soy beans, pouring it into gopher drawn barrels which were floated on the river to far places. There were gnomes stirring vats of milk and making good cheese to eat. The gnomes who worked at the gnome hospital were busy patching up farm injuries, taking care of sick gnomes, keeping the others healthy and helping to bring forth tiny gnome babies.
The Council of Gnomes met regularly under the large oak tree down by the river. It was a warm August night when they met to discuss the Gnome business. Daws stood up and reviewed with everyone how well Gnometown was doing.
“Gnometown is the envy of all the towns around. Our gnomes are busy working and playing. I just can’t think of anything we could change to make it better.” Daws stated proudly.
Doc Phil raised his hand to signal his wish to speak. “I would like to address an issue tonight,” he said, moving to the front by the fire. “Because our gnomes are so busy, accidents happen, illnesses befall us, we have aging gnomes and babies, we have a lot of babies. The staff at the gnome hospital are overworked. We need another doctor to be able to care for our gnomes, and I’d like to take some time off to go fishing with Doc Bill and Elder.”
“Thank you for bringing this to our attention, I had no idea,” Daws stated, as he turned to the crowd. “Does anyone here have any ideas?”
Gnome Rudy stood up with concern and said, “I am going to Minneapolis to check on a new industry which wants to come here, I will go to the big school there and try to find a doctor.”
“Thank you, Gnome Rudy, take gnomes Gerry and Joe with you and find the best there is, “announced Daws, “and report back to me when you get back.”
So all that took place and several weeks later, as the the gnomes were working in the fields, they were startled by a “Whoosh, whoosh, ”looked up from their tasks to see a large, brightly colored ball in the sky with a walnut shell floating under it. Someone was in it and waving a friendly greeting at them. They all ran to see it as it crashed to the ground in the clearing by the river. After the dust settled, a tall slender man and his wife crawled out of the nut shell and dusted themselves off. “Don’t worry, we’re not hurt. Tell me, am I in Gnometown?” he asked.
“Yes, this is Gnometown. Welcome,” stated Gnome Kay. “And tell us who you are and why you are here?”
“I’m Doc Ralph and this is my wife, Sue,” he answered as he grabbed his satchel from the walnut shell, “I have heard this is a good place to live and that I can help the gnomes here stay healthy.”
The gnomes that had witnessed this spectacle, clapped and yelled for joy and some ran to tell the others.
“Do you make music here?” Doc asked expectantly, “ I like to play my sliding horn.”
Gnome Maestro John stepped out of the crowd to shake his hand. “Welcome, Doc Ralph, you will find the gnomes here love to make music with brass, wood, ivories and voices. Come, join us. Music comes from the heart and we have big hearts here. “
“Welcome, Doc Ralph,” added Doc Phil, reaching out to shake his hand with his fishing pole in the other, “Thank you for lightening my patient load at the hospital. I would like to introduce you to Gnomes Elder and Doc Bill, my fishing buddies, we were just about to catch some big ones. We’ll stop by for late rounds and fry up some of our catch.”
It was a beautiful summer Sunday and all the gnomes were gathering down by the river under the large oak tree for church. Ole and his family were among them as they were every Sunday, arriving just in time to hear the choir singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy”. They found a comfortable place in the shade and listened to the “Rev” preach a fine sermon. After the service, they thanked the preacher and visited with friends before they started for home, looking forward to tuna casserole, green jello and ice cream for Sunday dinner. Of course, after such a fine meal a nap was in order to prepare himself for the next work week.
Ole, like many of the boys in Gnometown, worked in the fields and helped the farmers plant, cultivate and harvest their crops. On his way to work that day, he began to notice the ugliness of the debris scattered about the ditches and in the parks. On his way home from the fields, he decided to pick up the garbage that people had thoughtlessly thrown about. He took it home, reused what he could but decided to dig a hole and burn up the trash that was useless. He noticed how each house had a big pile of rubbish behind their homes and devised a plan. At the next Gnome meeting of the town Council, Ole told them he wished to start a business to beautify Gnometown. He would hitch his squirrel to his wagon and load up all the garbage and process it and they could grow flowers and vegetables in the spots where all the trash collected. The Council was delighted and told him they would pay him to do this because it would beautify the town and keep the rodents away.
So Ole started his new business collecting all the gnome garbage and cleaning up Gnometown. As he was going about his new business venture, he quietly saw other needs that the gnomes had. If someone needed a piano moved, Ole, tough and strong, did it for him. If a gnome moved from one tree to another, Ole was there to help pack up their belongings and help him move. His business grew. He needed to mechanize, so he contact Gnome Bob and bought a truck to make his work easier and faster. Do you know how many acorns he could get on that truck? The answer is lots and when he needed to unload it didn’t take a shovel, he just lifted the truck box in the air and they tumbled out so easily.
Gnometown was looking so much cleaner because of this new business. One day, the preacher stopped him as he was working and thanked him for all he was doing. “How did you ever get the idea to pick up everybody’s garbage?” he asked Ole. “Well, Rev, “he answered. “Last summer when I came to church, they were singing “Ole, Ole, Ole,’ so I figured that I had better listen good. Then you said we should go out and do something for our neighbors, so I took it to heart and started helping out. I figured it must be God speaking to me and I had better listen.”
Bob and Marlene Lee
School was about to start for the small gnomes in Dawson and Gnome Ruzich, who invented the game of berryball, expressed concern that there wasn’t any teacher to teach the small ones the game when they were younger and to learn how to keep their bodies strong and healthy. Superintendent Bob knew of a group of gnomes in the Cobber clan, way up north, who might be able to help. He summoned the great white goose, flew up north, and visited with the Cobber gnomes, finding the perfect young gnome to fill the position. That is how gnome Marlene came to Dawson. She jumped in with enthusiasm, teaching berryball, exercises, and many other new games, which all the small ones enjoyed.
On the other side of town, a young lad was learning from his Dad Gnome Art, how to make and fix “Gords,” a means of transportation which his Dad had invented because it was made from a hollow gourd with wheels and a motor. He also invented a machine made out of a green bean can which helped in the field, which they called “John’s Deer.” They had a lot of business, every gnome wanted one to make their work faster and easier.
Life was good in Dawson, the school was teaching the boys and girls all the things they needed to learn, they were all happy and healthy. The businesses were providing goods and services that the countryside needed and gnomes were efficiently helping the farmers with their crops and the hospital was helping the injured and sick to recover.
One evening, under the big oak tree down by the river, the Gnome Council was meeting with only a few items on their agenda when the leader of the gnomes, Daws, turned to the group. “Fellow gnomes,” he said quietly, “things are going well here in Gnometown. I can’t help but think that a big reason for this is our school and the great teachers we have. They are preparing the small ones so well for business, for farming, and for parenting. They are learning and developing skills in medicine, music, math, history, English, geography, and games, which keep them well rounded, informed, useful, and healthy. I propose that we honor all teachers, Gnomes Bob, Steve, John, Areta, T.O., Vern, Dick, and Marlene for their excellence by bringing them a shiny red apple.”
“Good idea,” resounds from Gov. Ted, “I’ll get gnomes Al and Bob to pick some apples south of the river and bring them up to school tomorrow.”
The next day gnomes Al and Bob picked the nicest red apples from high on the tree, polished them with the silk of a nearby spider web, and brought them up to the school. Al went one way, Bob went the other, and surprised each teacher, much to their delight, with a big red apple. Bob had one left and walked into the big assembly and put it on Marlene’s desk. Their eyes met and that was it. The magic happened and it is said by someone who witnessed it, little hearts, like bubbles, floated in the air at that first glance.
The EMTs and First Responders
Gnometown was certainly way ahead of the other gnome communities in many ways, all looking at their modern hospital with Docs Bill and Phil got started and the Ambu-gord, the vehicle which Gnome Al invented to transfer patients. At the next Gnome Council meeting down by the river by the big oak tree, another problem was presented. “Doc Phil and I are finding it difficult to take care of our unwell gnomes and go with the Ambu-gord to pick up others. We need to stay here and someone else bring them to the hospital where we have the equipment to take care of them better.” noted Doc Bill. “Any ideas?”
The crowd put their heads together and were pretty noisy, discussing the problem at hand until Gnome Pollei got up to put forth his idea. “We should ask for volunteers to go out and pick up the unwell or hurt patients. It is just as east to drive the Ambu-gord as it is to drive any truck. I think I could do that.” he offered.
“That’s fine, but it isn’t just driving that is the problem, they usually need a little first aid before they should be moved or they might be injured more in the process of trying to help them.” added Doc Phil.
That’s when Supt. Bob and Gnome Vern stepped up in front of the crowd. “We know of students who are strong, have compassion and are smart. We think we should select some of the best, train them in basic lifesaving skills, organize them on a rotating schedule so they are ready to go out when we put out the rooster to crow on top of AGP.” said Gnome Vern.
“Perhaps Doc Phil and I can set up training classes and supply them with the equipment needed I the Ambu-gord. We will call them TUG, Transport Unwell Gnomes.
“I want to be on that team!” volunteered Gnome Pollei, “I will help Vern and Bob. We will compile a list and contact gnome volunteers.”
“We have a great start here,” interrupted Gnome Jerry, “but don’t forget how far our community goes out in the country. Getting to accidents on the farm takes precious time, I think we need to train people way out in rural areas to respond with lifesaving skills to the emergencies even before TUGs get there.”
“They could be called HUGs, Help Unwell Gnomes,” offered Gov Ted, “I live almost to the lake, I could cover area north of Gnometown…and I know a lot of people south, west and east of here also. I got to know them when I ran for Governor. I’ll contact them.”
“Wow!” concluded Doc Phil, “We have covered that well. Thank you for volunteering. We have HUGs who can administer first aid and comfort and we also have TUGs who can do that plus transport anyone who needs to go to the hospital. Now, does anybody have any ideas to replace that awful rooster on top of the hospital?”
“I have an idea, “Gnome Solie added, “maybe Gnomes Ruth and Sharilyn could use their voices to alert HUGs and TUGs, I know they would be heard!”
Alta Roesch, Ruth Solem & Sharilyn Bates
It all started when Alta and her younger sister, Ruth, both pretty, imaginative and popular, spent a lot of time down by the river; painting, crafting and dreaming. “Our Gnometown needs an identity, something for people to remember us by and what we stand for,” mused Alta one day. “What do you mean?” asked Ruth, “like a combine or a tractor?” “No,” answered Alta, “something that represents how the people in this Dawson community care about each other and volunteer endlessly to help others.” “Oh,” piped Ruth, “something to stand in the park so visitors, who drive by, see it? It could be a gnome like us, helpful and friendly. We settled in Dawson because the people who live here were so nice.” Alta’s face lit up, Ruth had a great idea. “Yes!” Alta jumped in, “I could write a legend which tells how the gnomes came here, why we have a heart on our sleeve and bent hats. We could tell the world how the people of Gnometown treat us and the others that visit and live here. There’s a big council meeting tonight, let’s go and present our idea.”
Shar, a very shy gnomette, lived far in the country and longed to be close to the two sisters because they seemed to be so popular and kind. She would catch glimpses of them but was afraid to get too close. Tonight was the big council meeting and her family was making the trip to the river to vote on the issues before them. As she got closer to the crowd, she saw Alta and Ruth sitting in the front row and motioned for her dad to sit in the 2nd row, close to her want-to-be friends.
It was just dark and Daws started the fire, which signaled all to be quiet. Governor Ted started the meeting and invited others to talk about the current issues. Gnome Phil, gave a report about the hospital and ambulance, Gnome Dick and Gnome Al talked about how the city was running, Gnome Bob went over the activities of the school. The firegnomes told about the new firefighting equipment they had purchased. Things were good in Gnometown. Then, to Shar’s surprise, her mentors, Alta and Ruth stood up, and excitingly told the large crowd of gnomes about their idea. Gnome Gerry stood up, ‘Yes, we need something to show the outside world that Gnometown is a Gem on the Prairie.” Gnome Morris made a motion to fund it from the Gnomefund. The gnomes voted by turning the tips of their hats toward the river. All hats turned, it was carried. “We are so excited that you like this idea,” replied Alta, “but we’re going to need help in getting it started, any volunteers?”
“I’ll help,” Shar screamed excitedly, as she jumped out of her seat. This was her opportunity to get closer to the gals she admired most. “Thank you for volunteering,” replied Ruth, “it will be a lot of work but it will also be fun.”
And so it was, Shar finally got to be friends with the two sisters and through many years was a great help to them in developing their “gnomish” theme. It was Shar who suggested they honor specific people, like Dr. Johnson or Maestro Solie and recognize their contributions to Gnometown. They even started a celebration down by the river, they called Riverfest and used that to unveil the first gnomes, in honor of Daws and Fat, and as the celebration grew, so did the friendship of the three young gnomettes.
A very ambitious young gnome, known as Al, looked up to the leader gnomes in Gnometown as mentors. He wanted to grow up to be a leader too, just as wise and good. He was given an opportunity to work for Gnome Morris who was on the cutting edge of inventing a device which would not need the small rodents to pull it for transportation and field work. It was propelled by something he called a “motor”.
Young Gnome Al hung around the shop, learning about every aspect of this invention. They called it a “Gourd” because it was made from a dried gourd, equipped with seats, wheels, motor and even doors which opened and closed. They sold Gourds and fixed Gourds for Gnomes Jerry, Doc Phil, Doc Bill, Rudy, Dick, and all the others.
While he was working, Gnome Al listened to them talk about the problems in the community and was determined to be like them and make a difference in Gnometown. His hard work at his job and common sense was noticed by the older and wiser gnomes. They began to seek him out for ideas.
Once, Doc Bill asked him to be on the committee to help develop a facility to take care of sick gnomes. He examined several locations to see if they could be made fit, but he found them unsuitable and advised them to build new. So they did, and they called it Doc Bill Hospital.
At about the same time, when a gnome was sick the doctors had to travel to their underground homes to care for them, and it was becoming difficult for the doctors and nurses, because there were too many patients and not enough caregivers. Al suggested to Doc Phil and Dick, that they dry out a long zucchini, add a motor and wheels, put a mattress in it and call it an Ambu-Gourd, so they could carry the sick ones to the hospital. He suggested using lightning bugs on the front and back so they could be seen easily when they needed to drive fast in an emergency. So they built it and another business was developed in Gnometown because other communities needed the Ambu-Gourds too.
He continues his shop, once owned by Gnome Morris, willingly fixing tires, pumping gas, changing spark plugs, getting people out of ditches and snow banks, and washing their windshields. He has a special concern for the women in Gnometown. He wants nothing bad to happen to them. So, if someone needs new tires, he will tell them, “I don’t care if you drive with those tires, but I don’t want anything bad to happen when your wife drives.”
The passion of Gnome Al to help the folk and other gnomes of this community extends to organizing the response to the flood of ‘97, doing his part to help in church, helping Gnome Rudy encourage business in Gnometown and being a willing volunteer as needed. He brought to Gnometown Council, new ideas which were good for the community.
With hard work and common sense, Gnome Al did indeed, grow up to be just like the gnomes which had been his mentors. He had proven to be wise and good.
Once upon a time, seventy-two years ago to be exact, a boy gnome named Richard was born in a beautiful river valley town called New Ulm. He went to school there and decided on a nearby river town college in Mankato to get a teaching degree. When he was about to graduate, Superintendent Gnome Bob Clay came to MSU and asked him to come to Gnometown and teach the young gnomes. Richard and his high school sweetheart wife, Lois, went to visit Gnometown. They thought it would be a lovely place to raise a family and moved, bringing their two week old son, Steve. It was a busy time, especially when the next year a daughter, Lisa, arrived and the following year, another daughter, Monica, was born. Teacher Richard was busy with gnomes from seventh to twelfth grade teaching speech, industrial arts, drama, declamation, and driver education. He produced many plays and worked on several musical productions with Gnome John Solie.
Gnome Richard was also busy in the church helping to set up a Diocesan Pastoral Council, becoming a lector and a Eucharistic minister and preparing the youngsters for confirmation.
A routine was being established when Mother Nature decided to upset things by sending so much snow in the winter of 1969 that school was in session only 11 days from December 18th to February 14th. All the snow had to melt, so the town was flooded. The local police asked Richard to be in charge. He organized the students and teachers to fill sandbags around the clock. Many of the local farmer gnomes came to town to help place sandbags and do other work during the flood. All the gnomes worked together to protect properties and people and clean up the mess afterward. Richard went on to become Lac qui Parle County Disaster Chair for many years.
One day when Richard was walking down the street, the policeman on duty asked him to help on an ambulance call. At that time there were only two policemen and they also ran the ambulance. Richard thought Dawson needed a separate ambulance service, so he conducted a fund drive and did an all day telethon to raise more money. The generous gnomes gave enough money to buy the first van ambulance and the equipment, plus train 18 volunteers as EMTs. The Dawson volunteer ambulance service eventually became part of Johnson Memorial Health Services and continues to be a vital quality service.
It seems the policemen were often choosing him for volunteer jobs and asked him to run for mayor of Gnometown Dawson. The very first big project was the Centennial celebration for the town. In June there was a two hour parade, lot of activities, and lots of volunteers, making it a truly fine celebration. During his 12 and ½ years of service as mayor, he worked with the City Manager and Council planning improvements and developments.
Plans were made to replace Main Street and the driving bridge, a walking path by the river, city apartment housing, a new library and a new fire department building. There were improvements in the City Park, the Prestholdt Softball Fields by Gnome Rudy and his sons and many softball players. Winterfest and Riverfest were started, and the tradition of honoring gnomes from the community was begun…but that is another story.
In the late 90s Gnome Richard retired from teaching full time, but still wanted to be in touch with the young gnomes that he so enjoyed. He did some long term substitute teaching and some “on call” subbing for a few years. All during his teaching career, he also had a bus driver’s license drove his own drama and declamation trips. He took a full-time bus route and has a few families that he taught the grandparents, the parents and now is driving the grandchildren to school. Between teaching and driving bus, Gnome Richard will reach 50 years of continuous service to the Dawson-Boyd School District in 2011.
Family, friends, faith, doing a good job and helping others by volunteering, have been the guidelines that Gnome Richard has tried to follow in Gnometown Dawson.