Originally published in the Northwest Suburban Community Resource & Residents’ Guide
Ask 89-year-old Roger “Pete” Schmidt what he likes best about spending Thursday afternoons at the Historic Hamel Library, and there’s no hesitation.
“Visiting with the community members,” he says with genuine enthusiasm. “Older people and the young ones, too. It’s fun. They come from all over. They know we have all this history here, and they want to find out about their families.”
The Historic Hamel Library, a small wooden building that was originally a “summer kitchen” next to the old Hamel schoolhouse, is now a museum that houses a vast array of historical documents and photographs, vintage books, a drum from the Hamel Concert Band, and an old wood burning stove. Binders filled with family and community histories line the shelves along one wall. Another section is dedicated to the Hamel Hawks baseball team. Pete is a member of the Hamel Hawks Hall of Fame, having played for several years and managed the team for one.
Pete was born in 1928 on the family farm, just on the other side of Hamel in Plymouth. He still lives on a small section of the land, where he taps “Big Woods” maple trees each year and produces maple syrup. It’s a family tradition dating back to when his great-grandparents farmed the land. He has a picture of himself at age two with his grandparents in a horse and buggy, heading to the woods to tap the trees.
“Nowadays, someone just gets on the computer to let people know it’s time to make the syrup,” he says, “and in an hour, I’ve got family over to help out.”
Pete speaks fondly of the town, its residents, and its history. He owned a cabinetry business in Hamel, which for many years occupied the old schoolhouse next door to the library. He recalls how kids would come in and the door would slam all day long, and he laughs when two young residents visit and let the door slam behind them.
“People love coming here, they love to bring things to put in the collection,” he says. “People like to be involved.”
The Historic Hamel Library is located on the southwest corner of Hamel Road and Sioux Drive, and is open on Thursday afternoons in June, July, and August, and during special events like the Hamel Rodeo Parade (coming up this Sunday, July 9 at 2 pm on Main Street) and the Church of St. Anne Parish Festival. Pete is at the library on a rotating basis with two other volunteers.
This piece was originally published in the Northwest Suburban Community Resource & Residents’ Guide, recently direct-mailed to residents and businesses in Corcoran, Hamel, Greenfield, Loretto, Hanover, Medina, and Rockford. Prime Advertising & Design has more than twenty years’ experience producing these community publications for numerous cities and events around the region, including the Official Guide of next week’s Maple Grove Days. In addition to direct mail, the guides are available at key locations such as city halls, chambers of commerce, community centers, libraries, and local businesses. The guides provide everything residents need to know about living and working in our communities, and offer area businesses advertising opportunities to reach residents and visitors.
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Photo of Roger “Pete” Schmidt: Colette DesMarais, Prime Advertising & Design