Small but important things

There are a few standards places which need to be reliable. A good fishmonger, a reliable auto mechanic, and a steady consistent barber.

I need to add a good camera shop for the cleaning of sensors…

And a good cheese shop…

Not to mention used book stores!

The building wherein I first started to learn Latin!

A good Chinese restaurant is essential.

Soft shell crabs in five spices.

And here is a great corner… dry cleaner, tailor, cobbler, and spice store!

Not quite so small a thing is a beautiful chapel dedicated to Our Blessed Mother.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. torch621 says:

    And also a good, dedicated wild bird store.

    Especially if the know their stuff =)

  2. AnAmericanMother says:

    Gotta have a good dog trainer.

  3. Desertfalcon says:

    Before I sit in the barber’s chair I look for certain clues. Gun and fishing magazines in place of fashion and entertainment gossip. Numerous combs siting in that container of blue liquid. If it has those, it’s usually OK.

  4. asophist says:

    Can’t keep it a secret, Fr. Z: as a native of the Twin Cities I know that West Photo is next door to Surdyk’s Liquor Store (in Northeast Minneapolis), which contains the cheese shop in your photo. I was there just the other day. Great liquor store – and not a bad cheese shop either. Good choice. Thanks to the “power of suggestion” I will probably stop there tonight!

  5. PghCath says:

    Like most of your “Father Z’s Life” posts, this one made me smile. How could a barber shop that looks like that not be perfect?

  6. asophist says:

    BTW, will you will be celebrating a public TLM during your sojourn in these parts? At St. Agnes? St. Augustine? When will we have one at the cathedral?

  7. jaykay says:

    And, living in Ireland as I do, a good pub. With clean lines for the pints (let the reader understand, as the Apostole saith) and daycent whiskey!

  8. RichR says:

    What about a good dentist?

  9. J Kusske says:

    Now there’s a cheese shop that actually _is_ “the finest in the district”! And the used book store looks superb too. (I think I might recognize it–in Dinkytown?–looks like they’ve treed you into Minneapolis all right!) Of course Loome’s is the place for theology or church history, but Dinkytown’s book stores have lots of other adademic subjects. But Half Price Books in Highland Park has a great discount rack that I’ve haunted many’s the time and found lots of little gems in. Next time I make it back to the States I’ll be making up for lost time in all these areas…

  10. Funny. I barely use any of these establishments.

    My wife cuts my hair, I catch my own fish, my wife either buys her cheese from the only 2 stores in town that sell it or makes it (cottage, farm, etc…)

    But I think on a top 10 list would be a reliable Gun-Smith.

  11. tzard says:

    In a sense, you prove Fr. Z’s point. Because he doesn’t go to the barber shop to get his hair cut, or to the cheese shop to just buy a certain cheese, or bookshop to buy a book…. those things are “accidentals” of the experience.

    One could use Amazon to get good books, You can cut your own hair (yikes!), you can even smith your own guns (fun!); but that’s not the point. What’s missing is the people and the adventure. Chatting with the barber and the patrons is a man’s activity – even if you only get a trim. A good bookstore is for browsing and getting lost in the stacks. A cheese shop is for tasting and trying new stuff (and the conversation with the cheesemonger).

    I suppose torch’s wild bird shop is for tasting wild birds… Oops, perhaps buying them? Or feeding them? No, it would be to talk about them and sharing your latest discoveries.

  12. wanda says:

    Don’t forget a lovely produce stand in the Spring and Summer. Also, a good market for plants and flowers for the yard! My car automatically pulls over at flower stands.

  13. chloesmom says:

    Gotta have a music store!

  14. Frank H says:

    Some of my favorite haunts used to be used CD/record stores, but they are a dying breed.

  15. ndmom says:

    “Now there’s a cheese shop that actually is “the finest in the district”!”

    But is it licensed for public dancing???

  16. AnAmericanMother says:

    Angels, you’re absolutely right. I don’t know what we’d do without our gunsmith. Actually, we have two – one is a specialist in Cowboy Action fine-tuning. That’s all he does, so we have a general gunsmith for everything else.

    I mentioned to one of our Parochial Vicars that the Cowboy Action club didn’t have a chaplain. He immediately mentioned the other Parochial Vicar (who is a military veteran).

    So, what did priests wear in the Wild West?

  17. TundraMN says:


    I once went to that same barber! He is an honest man. I asked him if he was any good at cutting flat-tops and he said that he wasn’t, but he would give it a shot if I wanted him to. I didn’t, but many barbers will give it a try without warning you! This guy is a good one to go to for other cuts though, I’m sure. Grand Ave. is a great part of St. Paul!
    In Christ,

  18. jayday: ‘With clean lines for the pints (let the reader understand, as the Apostole saith) and daycent whiskey.’
    No kiddin’ here…ya gots it right on da mark, yeah?

  19. Mike is a great barber. This is old fashioned fast and solid. I encourage men in the Twin Cities area to go to Mike. Fairview and Grand.

  20. Father, you might have mentioned it before, but what is the name of this town? I want to find a place just like it when I retire.

  21. Eric says:

    I take it you had to do all this running to negate your MOA experience?

  22. Eric: Exactly. There was no alternative to MOA for one errand. The rest of my errands focused on my preferred small businesses.

  23. irishgirl says:

    What a cool ‘photo essay’, Father Z!

    I like a good book store, too. There is one outside the village where I’m writing this entry. I’ve bought a few good second-hand books there. It’s in a small barn; one has to remember to ‘duck’ the head when climbing upstairs to the stacks! On one of my last visits, I saw a huge cat lying in a box by the register.

    I also like pet stores!

  24. Re: frontier priests’ clothes

    It seems to vary a lot, according to time and place, specific order or diocese, the folks who were in charge of them, what country they were from, and what was available for them to buy or be given. Some priests just had to go with whatever could cover their bodies, while others managed to maintain cassocks. A lot of them seem to have had to walk everywhere, unless somebody gave them a ride, even though their “parishes” were huge. But as the frontier got more settled, you had priests riding around on railroads from town to town, or even dioceses that glommed a train car and used it as a traveling chapel.

    So it probably depends a lot on your local history, and what you can persuade your prospective chaplain to re-enact. It sounds like interesting stuff to research.

  25. Re: big parishes

    I was just looking around and saw a book about army chaplains on the frontier. There weren’t very many Catholic ones that managed to get appointments, so the large number of Catholics in the army usually had to hope there was a priest in some nearby town. When they did get in, they took care of nearby civilians as well. One Fr. Keogh had a Dakota Territory rancher and his wife ride _21 days_ to his post to get their baby baptized. (And of course, that meant another 21 days to ride back.)

    Imagine it. Six weeks’ travel. How tough they were.

  26. Eric says:

    Nobody’s mentioned Catholic Gift & Book stores.

  27. Konichiwa says:

    I love soft shell crabs. MMMMmm goood.

  28. Dr. Eric says:

    That looks like Penzey’s Spices. We spent about $130 there a few weeks ago after Solemn High Mass and a picnic.

  29. AnAmericanMother says:

    Thanks, suburbanbanshee!

    When I was a history major, the frontier was not my area (the Civil War was). But I’ve learned a lot while researching my own persona (you have to assume the character of a Wild West individual, whether from history, film, or books, in order to shoot Cowboy Action).

    I don’t see how a priest could ride in a cassock, and that would be just about the only way to get around out West, beyond the stagecoach routes. Maybe a single horse and a very light buggy or gig with lots of ground clearance . . . . ? Come to think of it, doctors generally drove a gig or a light chaise.

  30. AnAmericanMother says:

    And apropos of the West, here’s something I heard a long time ago:

    When the frontier opened and the preachers went West, the Baptists walked, the Methodists rode horseback, the Presbyterians took the stagecoach . . . but the Episcopalians waited until they invented the Pullman car.

  31. irishgirl says:

    I live in the Eastern US, but this is a story I heard from a priest who was the diocesan historian:

    A priest had to go up to the northern part of New York State to take care of some Catholics. He rode in a horse-and-buggy with the sexton of the ‘main’ parish he was pastor at. The roads were infested with bandits and robbers, so the sexton carried a shotgun in the carriage just in case. Well, they got home to the parish rectory OK on this trip, but after the priest got out of the carriage, the horse got spooked somehow and the gun went off, hitting the priest. Unfortunately, he died of his wound.

    And his grave is the first thing one sees on entering the cemetery….it’s the same one where my parents, my baby brother, my maternal grandparents and other relations are buried.

    AnAmericanMother @ 1:13-that’s a funny one!

  32. Eric says:


    Priests aren’t like Scotsmen in kilts, they do have pants on under there. Unbutton the lower buttons and get on. NBD

  33. Agnes of Prague says:

    (North) Texans know [url=]Recycled Books[/url] is our used book store of awesomeness. Not always able to make the trek, although actually for Catholic reading Half Price Books has given me many good finds.

  34. Supertradmum says:

    Does anyone know where one can find a good fishmonger and cheese shop in the Kansas City area? I miss walking to stores like these in England.

  35. Supertradmum says:

    Is this off-topic? A monk friend of mine states that most monks wear summer shorts under their robes. Nice to know, I guess….

  36. AnAmericanMother says:


    I happen to have lots of experience with horses (since I was 5). I’ve ridden both aside and astride, English (hunt seat and dressage) and Western (cutting and general ranch work).

    Unless the cassock has a snap vent in the back that goes all the way up to the waist, you CAN’T just unbutton the front. It will (a) hang up on the cantle and (b) ruck up in the back and look ridiculous. That’s why the Aussie Drizabone riding coats and the yellow cowboy slickers (a/k/a the Marlboro Man coats) have the vent in the back.

    A ‘riding cassock’ with a back vent, with nice buckskin breeches and well-made hunting boots underneath, would be AWESOME. Gives new meaning to Anthony Trollope’s essay on “The Hunting Parson”.

  37. AnAmericanMother says:

    And you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff choir members wear under their choir robes . . . .

    . . . probably the worst I have ever been guilty of was camouflage pants and an “Old South Hunting Retriever Club” T-shirt and the whistle/duck call lanyard I forgot to take off . . . came dashing into church late from a dog training day . . . after staking the dogs out in the shade of a friendly tree . . . .

  38. Supertradmum says:

    Wow! and the dogs obviously stayed outside….lol

  39. AnAmericanMother says:

    Couldn’t leave the dogs in a hot truck for an hour . . . this is the South, after all.

    And I’m sure Monsignor would have a lead pipe fit if I brought them even into the vestibule! Despite the fact that they are extremely well trained and well behaved dogs, they are still dogs!

    Most retriever folks put their dogs on a stakeout chain in a shady location with a big bucket of water with some Doggie Gatorade added. The earth is always fairly cool, even on a very hot day. Fortunately there’s a large grassy area with trees to one side of the parish parking lot, it’s ideal for dogs. And my girls are super-friendly and wouldn’t bite a biscuit, so nobody’s in danger of anything except a face-washing courtesy of Dog No. 2 who has a prehensile tongue and a bad habit of licking any exposed skin she can reach.

  40. AnAmericanMother says:


    I did find this pair of pictures — one Father Luke, a “travelling priest” in northern India in the early 1900s – on horseback and on foot.

    Looks like an abbreviated cassock for riding. Jodphurs and jod boots underneath.

    The pith helmet, the shades, and the fly whisk are nice touches.

  41. TDS says:

    Fr. Z,
    Nice mini tour of the Twin Cities. I especially liked the addition at the end.
    If I may, I want to offer you a helpful hint next time you are in need of a haircut in St. Paul: try Sportsman’s Barbershop on Randolph and Cleveland. Trust me, there is no comparison in quality of haircuts. Plus, it is bonafide guy place- not hoity-toity, but down to earth.
    I know how strong customer loyalty can be (and how important it is), but having been both places myself, I’m sure you would appreciate the difference as well.
    Other than that, I can’t top your other places- they are all top notch!

  42. TDS: I have been to the Sportsman. It’s advantage is that it is open a little later on Saturday. It is, however, more expensive.

  43. Timbot2000 says:

    Folwell Hall! Where I started learning Chinese! (And Japanese, and Latin)

  44. Eric says:

    American Mom:

    Since I have never been on a horse in my life, (and if i’m lucky, will live out my days without doing so) I will defer to your expertise.
    However, I can’t imagine Fr. De Smet (the black robe) or the fictional “Priest on Horseback” Fr. Farmer or Darby O’Gill’s Fr. Cassidy on his big hunter “Terror” wearing anything but a cassock.

    At least we’ve confirmed they do wear pants. :-)

  45. AlexE says:

    Lets keep in mind that, if memory serves me correctly, that priests weren’t required to wear the cassock in public because of anti-Catholic senitment and wore a modified “frock coat” thus solving the problem. I love my cassock ( Im a seminarian) but I think riding a bike or a horse in it would be bothersome and ruin the cassock.

  46. irishgirl says:

    St. Damien of Molokai rode horses in his early days as a missionary in Hawaii. He must have found some way of hitching up his cassock while in the saddle.

    AlexE-yes, I can understand what you mean about riding an bicycle or a horse in a cassock….you don’t want it to get all dirty from what you pick up on the road.

    Then again, I have seen a photo of ‘His Hermeneuticalness’ [Fr. Tim Finigan of Blackfen, England], riding a bicycle in his cassock…and he seems to navigate quite well!

  47. AnAmericanMother says:


    Father Farmer was a real person, although he’s been given the ‘historical novel’ treatment. He was a priest at Old St. Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia when he wasn’t tearing about the countryside.

    If you ever change your mind and want to learn to ride, let me know. I still have my instructor’s certificate although it’s out of date!


    I think the difference is whether you’re riding or just sitting on a horse. If you’re on one of those little sturdy island horses – really ponies (I’ve ridden them in Haiti and in Hawaii) going at a foot pace from point A to point B, I don’t think a cassock would matter much. There’s a photo of a priest in Puerto Rico in the 50s here, wearing a white cassock on horseback! (his laundry no doubt was cursing that expedition!) If you look closely you can see there are no stirrups (and no bridle either), so it’s probable the pony was just led at a walk.

    The Indian priest was, on the other hand, doing some serious riding — his horse is what used to be called a “useful cob” — a little thick-necked but ‘strong in work’ and a handful (look at that bit!) If you’re going to cover some ground at a brisk trot or a canter, you’ll have to have jods or breeches or you will quickly acquire an awful collection of abrasions and leather burns. When I’m lazy and jump on in jeans and chaps, I still get some burns (I got a couple that are almost healed now, helping a friend exercise some polo ponies last Friday).

    The abbreviated cassock does look a bit odd — reminds me of a judge (no longer on the bench) with an un-airconditioned courtroom who cut off his judicial robes at waist level. He looked o.k. behind the bench, but when he got up it looked MOST peculiar. People called it “the Judicial Tutu” with good reason.

    I think a seriously circuit-riding priest would simply have his tailor put a snap vent in the back of the cassock. I normally wear a Drizabone riding in the rain, and when you get off and snap the vent closed it doesn’t even really show. It also has neat little leg straps so that the tails of the coat don’t flap in the wind and spook your horse, but I don’t see why a tailor couldn’t add those as well.

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