May 9, 2023 at 8:04 p.m.
Luetmer’s ‘The View From The Hill’ captures people, places in rural Minnesota
Maureen Luetmer knows how to get to know people – by writing.
Her feature stories and Remembering Country Potpourri columns have been published in local newspapers, including the Melrose Beacon. Maureen has also penned memories about her life growing up in New Munich and raising her family – Mary, Rose, Bob, Marty, Tony, Pat, Lois and Ted – with husband Al on a farm north of Meire Grove.
Many of those stories, capturing the spirit of the people and places in rural Minnesota, are in “The View From The Hill,” a book compiled by Maureen and daughter Pat Luetmer with input from daughter Mary Monroe.
“We did it,” Maureen said to Pat May 4, after signing the first copy in her Melrose home.
It is a dream come true for Maureen, who has had a fondness for writing since her youth.
“We had a swing at our house, and I’d be swinging and thinking about something and that morphed into stories,” she said.
Twenty-eight years ago Maureen had a liver transplant, which was a two-fold blessing. She received the gift of life and also the gift of writing for the Melrose Beacon.
“She was talking to people at the Beacon office, and they thought she should share her story about her transplant, and that was her first story,” Pat said.
Max Wenker was one of the first people she wrote about.
“He was a good friend. He came to our house and asked me to write his story,” Maureen said. “That made me feel good.”
Her Country Potpourri columns were a mix of stories about people and her own life. Each column usually included recipes, often from the person she featured.
She laughs when asked how many columns and feature stories she wrote over her close to 15 years at the Beacon.
Maureen was encouraged to write a book by others, including her family.
“While I was working for the Beacon I thought someday I’d write a book,” she said.
After receiving permission to include her articles and columns in a potential book, she decided to go for it. A “Focus on Writing” sign, hanging in their house, was a constant reminder to not only write but to finish the book.
“You really don’t want to know,” Pat said when asked when they started working on this book. Fifteen years in the making, they worked full force on it the past 18 months.
They went through stories from newspaper clippings and on floppy disks and CDs.
“I gathered everything I could, and we culled it down,” Pat said. “The book is pretty hefty, 292 pages.”
They rattle off a few themes – churches along the trail, war experiences, baseball, stories from the Lake Wobegon Trail guide, going to the cabin – intertwined with poems Maureen wrote and recipes from her columns.
Pictures add personality to the pages. On the cover is a photo taken years ago, on the farm, when Maureen brought lunch out to Al who was working in the field and a much younger Pat was with her. On the back cover is a photo of Maureen with grandson Zak Luetmer walking down a hill on their farm field road; hence the book title “The View From The Hill.”
“We started with a vision and let it take on its own shape, much like a work of art does,” Pat said.
“There were so many stories,” Maureen adds.
That made it difficult to choose which stories to include in the book.
“It was heartbreaking not to include all of the stories,” Pat said.
They recall when Mary, a writer and editor, said the other stories could go in a second book.
“Mom and I laughed and said, ‘You think there will be another book?’” Pat said.
Maureen will debut and sign her books from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 13, at the Bavarian Gardens, 420 Main Street, New Munich; and 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 20, at the Melrose Public Library 225 E. First St. No., Melrose. Ironically, the May 13 signing is just across the street from where Maureen grew up, the daughter of Hubert and Rosalia Heinen.
A smile forms on Maureen’s face May 4 holding her newly delivered book in her hands.
“I can’t believe it,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
A life spent sharing stories.