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Long-time Perham resident Bob Riestenberg recalls local people, events in new book

Bob Riestenberg, of Perham, has written a book featuring historical stories of the area. It was just recently published and is available for purchase. Connie Vandermay/FOCUS1 / 2
The cover of Riestenberg's new book, "Round Barns and Other Tales."2 / 2

Perham had a lot of "colorful characters" throughout history, and Bob Riestenberg wants to share his recollections of them.

For his newly published book, "Round Barns and Other Tales," Riestenberg dug through his memories and collected stories of his 90 years in the area.

As the title hints, Riestenberg researched buildings that interested him - especially round barns that were once on the outskirts of Perham. When he was young, the round barns were hot spots for barn dances; before they were demolished, they served as storage spaces.

Riestenberg found he had an intense interest in the history behind those round barns, the reason they were built in the first place. Through his research, he found that the barns once had religious ties, "because the devil couldn't back you into a corner."

Riestenberg's book touches on a variety of other topics, as well.

"It's story after story" about things that happened in this area, Riestenberg said.

He remembers the first golfers in Perham and how they teed off in a farmer's field mowed short by a horse-pulled mower. And the distinct personalities of the barbers of some 50 years ago. He also takes time to divulge his own history of farming and what life was like in the Perham area during Prohibition.

An avid musician, Riestenberg shares stories of all his years playing in a band.

Back when there were still barn dances, Cihlers Barn in Vergas was the most interesting place to play, Riestenberg said. Band members had to crawl up to the hay mount with all of their instruments. When they began playing, the walls would vibrate.

The material for Riestenberg's book developed over a five-year period, while he was participating in a writing class. What began as small articles meant to strengthen his writing skills, turned into a books' worth of local historical tidbits that he is now excited to share.

The book is available through Riestenberg at 346-6122 or Gail Schroer at 367-2926.