Born in raised in MN, it will always be considered home. To me, MN has a little bit of everything for everyone. In the summer, lakes, shopping, hiking, history. In the fall hunting. Winter months are filled with hockey, snow activities. As an outdoor enthusiast, there was an unlimited amount of activities to keep my days filled.
My hometown of Hastings is located on the Mississippi River and 30 miles from the Twin Cities of the state capital, St. Paul and her sister city Minneapolis.
For many years, pretty much my entire family was located here. Growing up, the city was not very big. It maybe had a population of 15,000. We had four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Our high school sports teams were known for many state championships. We even produced a few professional athletes. Hastings also is known for Hollywood writers and actors. We even had at least one movie filmed in town. We had two supermarkets. A movie theatre, and even a bowling alley for many years. We had two major roads that went through the town. Hwy 55 and Hwy 61. Hwy 61 was the only access across the mighty Mississippi for many miles. So we got lots of traffic heading to and from the cities.
My family settled in Hastings early in the 1900’s or maybe even earlier. I do know however that my Great-Great Grandfather owned and operated one of the only breweries in the state, Hastings Beer.
My Great Grandmother lived in the home until her death in 1991. The property was then sold and the old buildings demolished. I remember as a child rummaging through the old sight. Years and years of history just lying in ruins. The entire home sat just mere feet from the mighty river. My great-grandmother told stories of how men would go to the river in the winter to cut ice for the production line. oh, the stories she would tell me about the town and people. She grew up one block from the famous Spiral Bridge, which has since been torn down. What a shame, it would have been a major landmark these days. Even if it was just for viewing.
As a child, I used to love to visit downtown. With its man old buildings, more history waiting to be uncovered. Downtown was parallel to the river, and my family brewery was and the end of the “strip”. Walking downtown the historic buildings were built of era-appropriate material. A few had been upgraded, but not many. Far less even had historic plaques attached to the outside. We as a family tried for years to get the state to approve the brewery but with no prevail.
Growing up in this rural farm town was both a blessing and a disguise. A town small enough where everyone knew each other and a town small enough were everybody KNEW each other. I grew up in the country, about 10 miles from town. I had around 5 neighbors within a close proximity to me. We grew up riding BMX, motorcycles, and four-wheelers. I lived on a gravel road surrounded by farm fields. Our land was the only parcel with trees. my father was a nurseryman. I grew up in Hastings, calling it home for well over 18 years and even after graduation and my first tour of duty in Army, returned for another 10 years with my own family. Some of my teachers my parents had and then my own children had.
With a few major business headquarters located in Hastings, employment possibilities were steady. Of course, as time passed, the town grew, bringing more business and more people. The once small quaint river town has doubled in population since the 80’s when I grew up. The fields that once grew crops now have been developed into communities. An abundance of parks now dots the landscape. And once desolate gravel roads have been blacktopped. Hastings has stepped into the 21st century without a doubt. Luckily, parts of Hastings have maintained the historic look. Homes closer to the river can still be found built around the founding dates of the city. As one moves south or west the homes begin to become more modern and era-appropriate. Smaller homes have been substituted for larger more elegant homes.
Several community festivals bring the city together during the year. Outsiders would come. Hastings would grow in population during these times. Afterwards, the city would settle down waiting for the next boom.
Hastings, the historic river town, is my hometown. I grew up there learning about life. It taught me what I needed to know to succeed. The times I had there will never be forgotten.