Producing a commercial in Aberdeen, S.D…

I spent a week and a half in Aberdeen, South Dakota  shooting commercials for the Farmland brand of products. One night my production manager, food stylist, and I went to a restaurant that someone in the office had found online.

After several wrong turns we found the place at the end of a gravel road. There wasn’t another car in the parking lot, still we proceeded to the front door. We walked in and were greeted by, as we found out later, the owner who led us through several rooms, all adorned with white table cloths and place settings, but no people. In fact we didn’t see any other diners the entire evening. It almost seemed like something from a Kubrick movie.

As we were seated I noticed a performance area/stage off to the side with a painted backdrop of a beautiful beach with palm trees. Curious, I asked our waiter (the owner) about the stage and mural and she told us this story:

One night during the dinner hour she came upon an elegantly dressed woman, about 70, who was standing in front of the mural quietly sobbing. The owner politely asked if there was anything she could do for her. The woman said “no” and, quietly proceed to tell her that the mural had been painted by a soldier from Aberdeen who had been stationed in Hawaii (among other places) during World War II and had often described it as the most beautiful place on earth. Upon returning home to South Dakota, he had worked at the restaurant for awhile and painted the mural- sort of therapy for the emotional wounds he’d suffered during the war. She had heard about the mural for 50 years but had never seen it. The soldier who had painted the mural was her husband who had recently passed away, and she had come to see the mural he had painted so many years before.