Nostalgic High School Trip Reunion x5th

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Nostalgic High School Trip

The calendar moved ahead again. So, The Driveby Tourist attended his x5th class reunion. As long as the calendar got to this point, I took a nostalgic High School Trip. And, it’s a really different experience coming back to this town. Since I left when I was 18 and don’t have any family close by anymore, no reason to stop here unless it’s a class reunion. (Three of my siblings graduated elsewhere.) Consequently, I had to see sights that make the town unique (like any other town!) Lakes dot the area for many miles around. Ottertail County contains over 1,000 lakes. (The State of Minnesota defines a lake as having 10 acres or more of surface area. Just FYI, a square mile contains 640 acres, so the smallest lake is about the size of 6.5 average city blocks.)

High School
World’s Largest Pelican watches over the waterfall as it has for over sixty years!

Seems like small towns in Minnesota are obsessed with large replicas of animals. (More on that in later posts.) (Here is a link to a post containing a large otter replica in Fergus Falls MN.) And more on the Pelican later in this post. Maybe this is an appropriate time to see a link to the Giant Pelican in And a link to Pelican Rapids and it’s related tourism. Since Pelican Rapids is in the heart of lake country, why not?

The Town during and after high school

Certainly, Pelican Rapids changed over the years. When I was going to high school, the city population stood at about 1,600. And now it’s grown to 2,500! Also, when I was there, the population consisted of nearly 90% of the town being of Norwegian descent. Now, the population of Pelican Rapids, MN is 51.7% White Alone, 25.3% Hispanic or Latino, and 11.9% African American Alone. And nearly 8% are Asian. 41% of the people in Pelican Rapids, MN speak a non-English language, and 85.4% are U.S. citizens. Of course, graduation happened x5 years ago!

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Nostalgic High School Trip
Former Tastee Freeze

Every town has its hangout. When I went to high school, this was the local Tastee Freeze (a competitor to Dairy Queen). Not quite like the 1950s era “malt shop” but… Always a go-to place.

One Stoplight Town
Formerly “The” stoplight in town!

Pelican Rapids graduated from a “one-stoplight town” into a “two-stoplight town” after I left high school. might be time for a third stoplight??)

Pelican Rapids Pelican
Town Motto “personified”

Somebody likes the Pelican!

The High School

High School
Relatively new construction

The school board saw fit to tear down the old part of the high school. Of course, it doesn’t look like there is anything left of the old school although this is on the same footprint.

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High School
Formerly the old high school building

The old auditorium existed where the light part of the building stands.

High School Nostalgic High School Trip
Chauncy Martin Athletic field

Chauncy Martin held both the high school principal and then the Superintendent of schools positions during his time. His career included amateur boxing and teacher. He was High School Principal during my time.

Nostalgic High School Trip
Pelican Elementary school

The initial building of this school occurred during my time in junior high and high school. The sports mascot is the Viking, hence the name. (And we were the Vikings before the NFL Minnesota Vikings! They stole the name from us!)

Reunion held at local VFW. Here is the memorial to veterans.

Great to see veterans being honored! Certainly, as a veteran myself, we appreciate the recognition. The reunion took place at the local VFW.

The River

Pelican River

The Pelican River flows through several lakes north of Pelican Rapids and joins the Ottertail River south of town. The Ottertail River and the Bois de Sioux River form the Red River of the North at the confluence of the two prior rivers. (I like to use the word “confluence”!) The Red River of the North forms the border of Minnesota and North Dakota and eventually flows thru Winnipeg Manitoba and into Hudson Bay in northern Canada.

The Pelican – distance view for context

Surrounding area

Elizabeth MN – Tiny town

Elizabeth became known as a “bar town” back in the day. Nearby Fergus Falls (population today about 14,000 and 8 miles distant) was a “dry” town so people came here to drink at the 5 or 6 bars in this tiny town. (At least one of the bars had the reputation of selling beer to minors.)


Good trip. Of course, really great to see former classmates again. Amazing how the time flies and everyone’s lives have turned out to be much different than we expected. And, we got along without cell phones, computers, DVDs, etc.! So, the nostalgic high school trip comes to an end.

By the way, here’s a link to another post about the surrounding area.

Rock and Roll tie in

The number one rock and roll song that year was:
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles

Oh yeah, I’ll tell you somethin’
I think you’ll understand
When I say that somethin’
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
Oh please, say to me
You’ll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You’ll let me hold your hand
Now, let me hold your hand
I want to hold your hand

… and that’s a wrap!

The Driveby Tourist #the-driveby-tourist

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Beverly Blinde

    Interesting article; it’s amazing what you’ve found about your home town, especially all the changes in demographics.

    And it reminded Dave and I that 2020 will be our 60th hs graduation anniversary!!

    1. Great, hope you can get back to Chadron for it, if they have one!!

  2. Gerry Mortenson

    great article: well dpne

    1. Thanks Gerry, enjoying the blogging more all the time.

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