Thursday, July 26, 2012

Red River Fortunes

Where I work, I speak with people on the phone. Many of them are elderly people who need an ear to listen. This afternoon I spoke with a man who was born in 1917 who asked, after we took care of the issues he was calling about, if he could tell me a story.

I had told him that I am located in Minneapolis, and that was what sparked his memory. His wife, he told me, was from Fergus Falls. He has always lived in New England.

The story:

When I was in between college and graduate school, I worked for the US Department of Agriculture climbing up elm trees, big tall trees, with ropes.

One weekend, a few of the guys and I decided we were going to go into New York City for the World Fair. We were in east Pennsylvania at the time. We all piled into a guy's truck and set off.

We didn't think about getting hotel reservations, which was stupid. The entire city was packed full. No where to sleep. Then I remembered the bowery. Do you know what the bowery is? It's a room for bums. You can get a place for 25 cents per night. We were told to keep our money in our socks, so we did.

That night we decided to go out for a few beers and a walk around the street vendors. We saw a place advertising for fortunes, so we stopped in. Ya know, everyone who is into fortunes has to be pretty gullible, and I was being an ass that night, so I told the lady her fortune before she told me mine.

I don't remember what I told her, but she told me that I was going to marry a girl from the Red River Valley. I thought to myself, I don't know anyone from Texas, so I'm free!

Well, about five years later, I meet this girl named Ellen from northern Minnesota. We started going together and things were getting pretty serious between us. I was getting ready to pop the question, but I had a moral dilemma that I had to clear up. I told her the story about the fortune teller.

I said, "Ellen, dear, I'd like to marry you, but five years ago a fortune teller told me I was going to marry a girl from the Red River Valley. You're not from Texas, so I don't know if I can marry you."

"Joe, you dummy. Don't you know that the Red River runs right through Fergus Falls? I'm that girl your fortune teller was talking about!"

They were married for 68 years before Ellen passed.


  1. Love reading your posts, Ben. I was sad when there wasn't one yesterday. I always have something to say about how much I like each post, but since I usually read from my phone, I can't comment. Thanks for sharing that story and for listening to people who need to share their stories.

    1. Thanks, Missy!
      I decided to take the day off. I was uninspired that day, so I didn't write. Thanks for reading!

  2. Loved the way you captured his voice, Benjamin. Loved the story! Is there a way I can get a notification every time you make a new post? I've been missing out and need to get caught up!

    1. Hey Lisa!
      At the bottom of the screen there is a link to subscribe to the blog. If you sign up through that, you should get an email everytime I post. My goal is to post a story every day of the week and take weekends off. They are usually up before 5 pm. If you haven't gotten an email by then, check the blog to see if I've posted!

  3. Quite a delightful story Benjamin. Reminds me of my grandparts. They have been married for at least 62 years now.