As the saying goes, all good things have to come to an end. Although I understand that my world around me is constantly changing and evolving, it doesn’t mean that it is always easy to accept.
Growing up in Mountain Lake, a small farming community in southwest Minnesota, life was pretty consistent from year to year. We had our families, our friends, our school, our hang out (which happened to be the Dairy Queen® store) and numerous other things that helped define who we were and who we’d become later in life.
Recently, while visiting my mom who still lives in the same house in which I grew up, I realized just how much Mountain Lake had changed since I moved away more than 25 years ago. Highway 60, which used to run through the heart of my community, now skirts around its edges giving travelers nary a glimpse of what life must be like in town.
The public high school, once home of the Lakers, our orange and black colors and rich heritage, now has a consolidated sports program with a neighboring community and claims a silver and maroon wolverine as its mascot.
Other than the local post office, none of the main street businesses from my past such as Mix bakery, Our Own and Gambles hardware stores, Epps Department store, Manor Inn restaurant, or Jack and Jill grocery store are still in operation. The buildings are there, but the people and merchandise that was once offered there are no longer.
Perhaps one of the hardest things to accept as I drove through town this time was not seeing the familiar red DQ® ellipse sign that always seemed to welcome young and old alike. You see, the Dairy Queen that had always been there for me after school, after practice, after games, on dates, after swimming, when I needed to grab a quick bite for lunch or dinner or just hang out in front of with friends, is no more. Oh, the building is there and is in the process of being renovated into an independent establishment, but the familiar DQ restaurant, as I had always known and remembered it, is now gone.
Sadly, it is the end of an era. Just as I’ve said good-bye to friends and family members, I say good-bye to “my DQ.” Yes, unfortunately, all good things do have to come to an end. It was a wonderful run and I am glad that the memories I experienced there are still as fresh as the creamy soft serve that was once enjoyed by tens of thousands of customers through the years just like me.
Even though the DQ location of my youth has closed, the cool thing is that there are more than 250 DQ restaurants to visit throughout the state, and nearly 4,600 throughout the country. We have our own Dairy Queen restaurant where I live today, which gives me the opportunity to take my two boys and start making their own lifelong memories. And if the tradition holds true, I’m confident that someday soon, they will come to refer to it as their DQ.